How about some fresh raspberries?
During the midst of winter is a good time to dream of fresh fruit straight from your garden. Raspberries are a good option for homeowners, as they are relatively easy to grow, productive, and nutritious as well as tasty. Did you know that in addition to Vitamin C, raspberries contain high levels of phytochemicals which are nutrients that are believed to reduce the risk of diseases such as cancer?
Planning your planting:
Choose a well-drained location in your yard, or create a large raised bed to plant into, as raspberries are prone to root rots. Raspberries prefer soils with good levels of organic matter (3 to 4%). Avoid planting in areas where strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflowers, or alfalfa were grown in the past 4-5 years, as these crops and raspberries are susceptible to Verticillium wilt, a soil-borne disease. Although good air circulation is encouraged to reduce disease problems, excessive wind can cause cane injury or decrease fruit set, so if possible, choose a site with some wind protection.
There are few herbicides labeled for use in raspberry plantings, so if perennial weeds (thistles or grasses, especially) are present, they should be controlled a year in advance of planting. When purchasing plants, plan for 2 to 3 ft. between plants. You will need a weed free strip that is 3 to 4 ft. wide for your bed (and room for cultivation equipment around each row).
Although the plants themselves are perennial, each individual cane lives only two years. The first year, an individual cane is called a “primocane,” once it goes through the winter and starts growth again, it is known as a “floricane.” Floricanes die once they are finished fruiting. Flower buds begin to form on canes during the first year of growth, but whether they develop fully by fall or not until the second season of growth determines whether that plant is “fall-bearing” or “summer-bearing.”
Varieties have become available on which flower buds develop fully on new canes during the first growing season, and bear fruit towards the end of their first growing season. These varieties are called “fall-bearing” or “primocane-bearing.” If the 2nd year canes are not removed at the end of the first year, they will then produce a smaller (and usually inferior) second crop on the lower portion of their floricanes the following July. An older example of this type is “Heritage,” although there are a number of other fall-bearing varieties that may be better choices for our northern climate because they fruit earlier in the fall. “Autumn Bliss,” “Autumn Britten,” and “Fall Gold” (a yellow berry) are all good choices.
Most older varieties of raspberries are “summer-bearing,” producing leaves and setting buds on the new canes the first season, but those buds do not develop into fruit until mid-summer the following year, after which the canes die. There are a number of good choices for varieties, including “Boyne,” Latham,” Nova” (nice because it has fewer spines), and “Killarny.”
A common question we get is “How do I know which type I have – summer or fall fruiting?” Do they fruit in the early fall? If so, you have fall-bearing raspberries. Fruit in mid-summer could be from either summer-bearing types, or from fall-bearing canes that were left to overwinter. (If the fruit in mid-summer is all borne lower on the canes, which could also indicate a fall-bearing rather than summer-bearing type.)
What are the advantages of each of the two types?
Fall bearing: Management of the fall-bearing types can be quite simple – at the end of each growing season, ALL canes can be cut down to the ground. Although another option is to leave the canes to overwinter and allow them to finish fruiting the following summer, this is not generally recommended. Removing all the canes at the end of the fall harvest reduces disease and possibly cold damage, and can extend the life of the planting. Another advantage of fall-bearing types is that there are a couple of gold-fruited types, which are very sweet and mild.
Summer bearing: A new fruit pest has recently developed that may make summer-fruiting a very good option compared to the fall fruiting cultivars. The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD), a nasty new fruit fly has invaded the state. It is particularly troublesome because it can drill thru the skin of ripe fruit and lay eggs, causing the fruit to collapse into a mass of tiny “worms” (larvae). So far it has been appearing only towards the latter half of the summer, so summer-fruiting raspberries may be early enough to escape its attacks. While I personally prefer fall-bearing raspberries, the SWD would convince me at this point to plant summer-bearing instead. Summer-bearing types also tend to have higher yields.
Whichever type you choose, always plant quality disease-free and winter-hardy cultivars. See http://igrow.org for a list of recommended fruit varieties (search on “fruit varieties”) to find SDSU Extension publication 06-3001-2012, “Fruit Varieties for South Dakota.”
As soon as you have decided on a variety or two, you should order your plants. If you wait until spring, you may have more difficulty obtaining the variety of your choice. Look for a reputable nursery that advertises “disease-free” or “virus-indexed” plants, as these will have been produced in a manner that reduces or eliminates the most common diseases. Do not be tempted to transplant suckers from an existing patch, as these are likely to have some diseases that you will then bring into your new planting. (Some diseases, such as viruses or some root rots, may not be readily apparent, but can reduce yield or berry quality.) When deciding how many plants to order, keep in mind that each plant should produce about 6 to 9 lbs. for summer-fruiting red raspberries, 3 to 4 lbs. for fall-fruiting raspberries once they are well established. While raspberries freeze well so large amounts of fruit can be easily preserved, it can be a challenge keeping up with the picking of a large planting!
2015 All-America Selections Winners Announced
By David Graper, Extension Horticulture Specialist
McCrory Gardens at South Dakota State University in Brookings has long been a trial site and display gardens for All-America Selections (AAS), an evaluation program for flowers, bedding plants and vegetables. Their mission statement reads “To promote new garden varieties with superior garden performance judged in impartial trials in North America.” McCrory Gardens trials the flowers and bedding plants and contributes its findings to a database of results collected from 33 Bedding Plant trial sites or 37 Flower Trial Sites. Plants are rated on a scale of 0 to 5 with a score of 5 being exceptional. Plants are evaluated on a wide range of quality factors and are compared to one to three comparison varieties that have similar characteristics to the trial plant. Judges do not know the true identity of the trial plant during the judging. If a plant is scored highly enough in a particular region of the country or across the country it may be given a Regional AAS Award or National AAS award. Since we only trial Flower and Bedding Plant entrees at McCrory Gardens I am reporting on them below.
Impatiens Bounce Pink Flame PPAF ‘Balboufink’ is an AAS National Flower winner for 2015. The flowers are a vibrant, two-tone pink color that really brighten up a shady garden spot but can also be grown in a sunny location. They produced lots of flowers all season long in a fairly shady location at McCrory Gardens this past summer, but the plants were shorter and more spreading than other Impatiens planted nearby. Since this particular Impatiens has genetics from the New Guinea impatiens (I. hawkerii) it is resistant to a Impatiens Downy Mildew, a serious new disease that has devastated planting beds of the typical garden impatiens, (I. walleriana). Look for this great new impatiens as a bedding plant in nurseries and garden centers next year – it is not available to grow by seed.
Petunia ‘Trilogy Red’ F1 performed very well in our AAS trials this past summer. It had vibrant red flowers that held up well during the cool wet early summer and tolerated the heat and drier conditions that we had later in the summer too. Plants have a mounded habit and continually produce new flowers to hide the old, fading flowers so they look good all the time. This is another vegetatively propagated bedding plant so look for plants in garden centers next year.
Salvia ‘Summer Jewel White’ is another national winner that also did extremely well in our trials at McCrory Gardens. It grew to a medium height and was covered in bright white flowers from early summer until frost. We have had other cultivars of Salvia coccinea before but this one really stood out for its extended bloom time and number of flowers. Plants were fairly compact and well-branched so they continued to look good throughout the summer.
Altogether there were 18 different regional or national AAS winners for 2015. You can visit their website to learn a lot more about AAS and see other winners from previous years at http://all-americaselections.org//index.cfm.