Growing raspberries

January is a time for planning new areas of the yard and garden. Paul called to inquire about growing raspberries.

There are two types of raspberries, those that bear once in summer on 2-year-old canes, and those that bear in fall. Fall-bearing raspberries are sometimes called ever-bearing because they may bear in the fall of the first year and again in summer of the second year.

The best time of year to plant raspberries is as soon as you can work the ground in winter to early spring, before growth starts. Plant in an area with fast-draining soil, as berries will rot in soggy soils. Plant raspberries in a raised bed or on a mound if you have clay soil. Whatever type of soil you have, mix in about 40 bushels of compost per 1,000 square feet of planting area.

Purchase certified disease-free plants. Set the plants into the ground at the same depth as they were in the pot and about 5 feet apart. June-bearing canes produce fruit only once and die after harvest, while new canes continue to develop. Remove dead canes in early spring of the following year, before buds swell. Always seal pruning cuts with white glue to prevent boring insects from damaging the plants. On fall-bearing plants, the first crop is produced on the lower parts of one-year-old canes, and the second crop is produced on the upper portions of the current season's canes. Pruning each year is important to keep plants productive.

Fertilize in spring and every six weeks until mid-June with a balanced fertilizer, such as one with a 10-10-10 analysis. These numbers on the bag or box of fertilizer indicate that it is 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium. Higher amounts of nitrogen will produce a lot of green growth, but not much fruit. If veins of the leaves are green, but the leaf itself is yellow, add chelated iron.

Plants will need about 1 inch of water per week to get started, and more during hot, windy weather. Keep the soil moist, but not soaked, to a depth of 10-12 inches. It is important to keep the soil moist during bloom and fruit formation to ensure good, juicy, prolific fruit. At the end of the season, decrease the water to harden off the canes for winter.

For more information, see Montana State University Extension Service report, "Growing Raspberries in Montana Gardens," at: www.montana.edu/wwwpb/pubs/mt9804.pdf.

For more gardening information, contact me, 887-2252 or skellyj@unce.unr.edu, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at www.unce.unr.edu. "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu.

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension Educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

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