The Q&A Archives: Raspberry plantings

Question: How can I help my existing plant to thrive?

Answer: Because a raspberry cane grows in year one (doesn't fruit) and then produces the fruit in year two, you'll always have year one and year two canes in each square foot.

In the early spring, you reduce the number of canes to six in each square foot. Do this by removing all the dead canes first (they're brown and gray and obviously dead). The prune out the weak and smaller canes leaving 6 big thick canes in each square foot of row. These strong year two canes will produce fruit and another crop of young canes. The row will become crowded over the summer (which is why you cleaned and pruned in the spring) as the canes grow.

If the canes are thin, you're either too crowded (left too many canes in the spring) or you're not feeding enough or not enough sunshine is penetrating to the plants.

Keep your rows as narrow as you can (one foot is ideal for harvesting) ? you can mow the adventurous shoots off or dig them up in the spring or fall. You keep the rows narrow so the wind and sun can penetrate into the plants ? keeping them healthy and disease free.

If you are growing everbearing plants things are a little different. They grow like regular berries ? with one minor detail. The new canes produce a crop of berries on new wood in the fall.

So ? a new cane produces a small crop of berries in the fall. Then it overwinters and produces a crop of berries in the spring as would a normal plant. Then it dies as would a normal plant.

In order to get a spring and fall crop, treat your patch like a normal patch above. The second-year canes will give you a summer harvest while the new canes will give you a fall harvest.

To only get a fall crop, mow everything to the ground in the early spring and only allow the new growth to produce a fruit set.

Just remember to water your raspberry plants deeply once each week and feed them in the spring with a 5-10-10 fertilizer. Enjoy your berries.

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