The Advantages of Growing Fall-Bearing Raspberries

, written by Ann Marie Hendry gb flag

Fall raspberries

Fall-bearing raspberries are so rewarding to grow. Like strawberries and peas they offer the delight of fresh eating, straight from the garden – instant gratification compared to having to prepare or cook most other produce.

And what an experience picking and eating those sumptuous berries is! Gently pinching the fruit away from its central plug, cupping the bright jewel in your palm to admire it (and check for damage and insect hitchhikers), popping it in your mouth and letting it release its sweet, tangy juices as it melts on your tongue. And then picking another – and another – and another, until your fingers and chin are sticky and smeared with pink! Or is that just me?

The Perfect Climate for Growing Raspberries

Gardeners growing in a cool, maritime climate may struggle to grow bumper crops of eggplants and melons but, take heart, you’ll undoubtedly be able to produce some cracking rasps. Scotland is very much the soft fruit garden of the UK, so if your climate is similar to Scotland’s – damp, chilly in winter and not overly blessed with high summer temperatures – you’re in a prime position to grow ravishing raspberries.

Fall-fruiting raspberry

Hot climates won’t do fall raspberry plants many favors, as they need a good cold winter to produce plenty of leaf growth and lots of bee-pleasing flowers (and thus fruits). Raspberries will take the worst of what the winter has to throw at them and come back raring to go in the spring.

Despite being most comfortable in cooler conditions, fall-bearing raspberries love the sun and will produce their best crops, and ripen most quickly, if they can bask in a bright spot. They are tolerant of shade, however, and in hotter regions shade may even prove beneficial.

Soil Requirements for Fall-bearing Raspberries

Poor, dry soils don’t please many plants, and raspberries are no exception. The archetypal moist yet well-drained, rich soil will keep them happy, especially if the pH tends towards being slightly acidic.

Raspberries are suckering plants from the woodland edge which naturally ‘walk’ as the forest expands to seek out fresh stores of nutrients. This means that those grown in one place within a garden can soon exhaust the nutrients found in the soil, which can result in viruses and other diseases taking hold. To replenish these nutrients it’s a good idea to mulch around raspberries with a rich organic mulch such as well-rotted compost at least once a year.

Leafmold, shredded bark, wood chippings or well-rotted sawdust will also help to improve soil conditions, but they won’t provide the same amount of nutrients as compost. If you’re using any of these as mulch it will be worth also adding a top-dressing of an organic fertilizer, such as poultry manure pellets, seaweed or bonemeal in spring.

Fall-bearing raspberries supported with a single string line

Mulching also helps to keep moisture in and reduces the need to weed. Hoeing can easily damage raspberry roots, which run close to the surface, so mulch generously and hoe with care.

The Benefits of a Fall Harvest of Raspberries

I favor fall-fruiting raspberries over summer fruiters for two main reasons. The first reason is the perfect timing of that luscious harvest. Fall-bearing raspberries fruit from late summer right through to the first frosts, so when I’m struggling to keep up with the harvesting demands of ripe red strawberries before the slugs get them, I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to do with a glut of raspberries too!

Summer fruiting raspberries crop heavily for a short period, while fall rasps crop more steadily over a longer period, so unmanageable gluts aren’t such an issue.

Picking a fall raspberry

Pruning and Training Autumn Raspberries

The second reason I love fall-bearing rasps is the pure simplicity of care they need compared to summer varieties.

Summer fruiting raspberries, known as ‘floricane’ varieties, fruit on last year’s wood. This means that the old canes need to be cut out every year, while the new green canes are left in place to produce next season’s fruit. Trust me – it’s very, very easy to accidentally snip out the new canes by accident!

Pruning fall-bearing raspberries

Fall-fruiting raspberries by contrast are ‘primocanes’, meaning they fruit on new wood. Pruning involves cutting down all canes after harvest ends in late fall, but before new growth begins in spring. And that’s it!

With both types you’ll need to remove any suckers that are growing away from the main row, and thin canes out in spring, but training fall raspberries is simple. While summer fruiting raspberries require a sturdy system of posts and tiers of wires to control those long, arching canes, fall-bearing raspberries are largely self-supporting. A single wire or length of strong string between posts is enough to keep them from leaning over pathways.

And if you want the best of both worlds, you can even double-crop your fall raspberries. The idea here is that you cut out fruited canes and leave the newer, greener canes to produce an earlier crop next year. This will help to spread out the harvest and, in most cases, increase overall yields. I plan to try this method next year, so if you’ve tried double-cropping your fall raspberries please leave us a comment below and let us know how you got on!

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Comments

 
"So are summer raspberries or fall raspberries depend how and when the canes are pruned. I can have fall raspberries i prune all canes and summer fruiting if I prune the vine that has fruited?"
Marie Prudhomme on Saturday 10 September 2016
"Not exactly. Summer fruiting varieties will only produce fruit on two year old wood, so if you cut out all canes you won't get any fruit until the second year. Autumn fruiting varieties however produce fruit on new wood; leaving the new canes over winter simply gives them a head start, so they fruit a few weeks earlier than normal."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 13 September 2016
"What varieties give fall raspberries? "
Marie on Tuesday 13 September 2016
"There are lots of autumn-bearing varieties of raspberries - they should be marked as such in any plant catalogue, and may even be listed separately from summer-bearing varieties. Here in the UK varieties such as Polka, Joan J, Autumn Bliss and Allgold (sometimes listed as Fallgold) are popular, but there are loads more and the varieties available in your region may differ."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 14 September 2016
"Of the Autumn varieties grown in my garden near Preston in Lancashire, Polka is first to fruit but doesn't crop for as long as Autumn Bliss but is the best tasting. I usually get Autumn Bliss from Mid July to late October (I am still picking this week). Joan J crops the latest but the fruits are the largest and the canes completely thornless which is a real bonus. Autumn Bliss has best resistance to brown root rot (some of my canes are 15 years old)"
John Smith on Monday 24 October 2016
"Hi John, sounds like you've good a good selection of rasps there. I love Polka too - it produces huge berries that are really sweet! I'm still harvesting them in my Scottish garden right now. Last year I think I was picking them until mid-November. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 25 October 2016
"I inherited a small crop of everbearing raspberries when I bought my house. I get a fairly good crop in July and then I get a very heavy and long lasting yield in late August right through to frost. I have pics of raspberries covered in a light dusting of snow. The new green canes produce in fall. I leave these and they produce again the following July. at the end of the season or in early spring I cut them down. So each cane spends two years in the garden, one year producing the first year in fall and then again the next July. I find it very easy to tell which ones to thin out as they turn a very light brown and become woody, as opposed to the first year green canes (fall yield) and the second year reddish ones (summer yield). I live in Canada, in a zone 4 area. Can't recommend overbearing raspberries highly enough, especially if you love raspberry liqueur! Unfortunately whoever planted them did not leave any info as to the exact name of these particular ones but I would think any overbearing variety would be as prolific..."
Valerie Wall on Friday 21 April 2017
"Great to know you've had success with the double-cropping method Valerie. You can never have enough raspberries!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 21 April 2017
"And by overbearing I mean overbearing, Ha!"
Valerie on Friday 21 April 2017
"Arghhhhh, just realized my computer is changing it. Everbearing..."
Valerie on Friday 21 April 2017
"The joys of technology eh..."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 22 April 2017
"I have just taken on my first allotment - I've never grown fruit before and have no idea what I'm doing! I have inherited some raspberries. I don't know which variety they are or whether they're autumn or summer fruiting. I can only go on what they look like now in May and they are just developing buds (I live in the Peak District so we're often a few weeks behind a lot of other places). Does it sound as if they're autumn fruiters? I've been to the allotment this evening and cut out a lot of definitely dead stuff, as well as snipping the dead-looking (shrivelled and brittle) tops off some of the live canes - these might have fallen victim to our late frosts."
Sarah Crooks on Monday 8 May 2017
"Hi Sarah, if they're flowering now they're likely to be summer fruiting raspberries. The dead-looking tops may be the remnants of last year's crop, in which case the whole cane can be cut out."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 11 May 2017
"I have a quick question regarding raspberries. My cousin had a bunch of raspberry shoots that made their way into his yard from the neighbor so when he told me that he keeps ripping them out to keep them contained (except for one plant that he lets grow)I went over to his place and got myself three plants. (not sure what type they are) I swear when I got them they had thorns on them, but now that I transplanted them in my garden they are getting quite tall (4 feet or so)but new growth has absolutely no thorns on them. Is that possible or can it take a year or two for them to reappear? I am not complaining but I want to know if something is wrong with them and if I am wasting my time with them. This is their second year in my garden and they still haven't produced. I had to relocate them to another part of my garden last summer which shocked them quite a bit and even though they survived they essentially had to regrow all the canes as all that was left after this past winter was a 3 inch stem lol. They grew about 4 feet between March of this year till now (July) The plant I took them from in his yard produces nice red raspberries and barely ever sees any sun which is what excites me as it has to be one hardy type of raspberry."
Mark on Sunday 2 July 2017
"If I double-crop my autumn raspberries, does this increase the risk of pests? And if so, does this have any impact upon the health of the plant or just mean I have to be more careful to avoid eating maggots in the berries I pick in the early part of the season? And do I need to change how and when I apply compost/top dressing/mulch to the plant?"
Graham on Thursday 12 October 2017
"Hi Mark, sorry for the very tardy reply! I wouldn't worry about the lack of thorns, as some varieties are bred to be less thorny - unless you're not entirely sure that you dug up the right plant! It might be worth going back to the garden you got them from to compare. Raspberries will fruit in partial shade, so that shouldn't be a problem (although they do better in full sun). Summer fruiting raspberries only fruit in their second year, so if they're a summer fruiting variety then you'll need to let them grow this year and hopefully next year you should get some fruit. Once they've finished cropping for the year, cut out all the canes that have fruited and leave the newer, younger canes to fruit the following year."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 12 October 2017
"Hi Graham, double-cropping shouldn't affect the health of the plant. Cutting out all canes each year is really just for simplicity of maintenance - letting young canes grow is actually allowing the plants to behave more naturally. Annual mulching should be sufficient, though if you experience dry summers you could top up the mulch after watering to help reduce evaporation. Maggots are rarely a problem on autumn-fruiting rasps as they fruit too late for the raspberry beetle to lay its eggs, but yes, you will need to check fruits for damage and maggots if you've got fruits appearing during summer."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 12 October 2017
"Hi just to add a comment on my Autumn fruit raspberries, they have been in for about 4 years and with out fail fruit almost continually between June and mid to late November. From 6 canes I'm getting still a good handful eg about 15 fruits every day. The only quite period is circa August. Each year I cut down fully to about 6" above the ground. Now propagating a few more plants from the side shoots which should be fruiting next year. I'm Midlands based with the plants in a sheltered light spot. Mulched each year with bark chips and a little new home made compost. These of all our fruits are the most cherished it's great picking fresh raspberries for topping on breakfast cereal for the family every day so late in the season when all other fruits are dormant."
Steve Thorndale on Sunday 5 November 2017
"Sounds like you're enjoying a very successful crop Steve. I agree, raspberries make the perfect topper for breakfast cereal. Mine have just finished producing now and I'm already missing them!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 9 November 2017
"I planted autumn raspberries last autumn and they are still producing today. My summer raspberries had to be protected from pigeons and squirrels. Seems they are not interested in Polka."
Phil on Wednesday 15 November 2017
"I also found that the raspberries (mainly Polka) which protruded out of my fruit cage were untouched by birds. They must turn to a more appealing food source at this time of year, although it's hard to imagine what could be better than a big juicy raspberry!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 21 November 2017
"I have inherited a autumn fruiting variety that produced fruit on canes last autumn. I am attempting to double crop so I have left those canes over winter. They have now turned brown and are starting to produce leaf buds. If i have understood your method correctly I leave these canes and they will fruit in June /July and then again in the Autumn? Or do I need to cut these canes out and wait for new ones to appear from the base of the raspberry plant?"
matt grimes on Sunday 18 February 2018
"Unpruned canes that were produced last year will crop during the summer only. Cut some of your canes right out before growth begins in the spring, and they'll fruit in the autumn as normal. That way, you get a double crop and a much longer season of harvest."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 27 February 2018
"Just wondering on peoples opinions on mulching? My plants are in their second year and I can see new growth starting from the ground. I've just given them a dose of chicken manure and mulched with woodchipping. Have I done the right thing?"
Jonathan on Sunday 11 March 2018
"Chicken manure is a good source of nutrients (it's best to use it well-rotted or in pelleted form), and the woodchip mulch will help to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Sounds good to me!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 16 March 2018
"I am thinking of planting a few rows of Autumn raspberries in a very windy spot in Aberdeenshire. I cannot really do anything about the wind but otherwise the ground is good for fruit. We have great currants and gooseberries. How vulnerable are these bushes to wind? Can you buy them potted? "
Uisdean Vass on Thursday 22 March 2018
"Hi Uisdean. Autumn raspberries in my experience any pretty resilient to wind. They don't grow as tall as summer-fruiting types, so don't get whipped around quite so much. Occasionally the leaves on my autumn rasps do get torn by the wind, but not too badly, and I do have quite a windy garden. You can usually buy them in pots from nurseries and garden centres, but if you're quick you may just have time before the growing season starts to buy them bare-rooted, which will be much cheaper. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 23 March 2018
"Ann Marie Many thanks for your response.Do these autumn raspberries need net protection against birds? How high do they grow? I am thinking of Autumn Bliss, Polka and Glen Cova? Any views? How far should rows be apart? Happy Easter "
Uisdean Vass on Friday 30 March 2018
"Autumn Bliss tends to fruit under leaves so that they cannot be easily seen by birds (or the picker!). Also our native blackbirds go into "hibernation" in mid-August/early September in order to moult and do not expose themselves to predation. I even leave my blueberry "Elliott" (which ripens late August) without nets because they are a late variety whereas I have to net the earlier ones. Yes, I do lose some fruits in late July and early August but not too many."
John Smith on Friday 30 March 2018
"Hi Uisdean. While not as lanky as summer fruiting types, autumn fruiting rasps often still reach 6ft (1.8m) or more. I find I need to net them in my garden, though they say that yellow-fruited varieties such as Allgold are often ignored by birds. You can't go far wrong with Autumn Bliss, and I love Polka. I haven't tried Glen Clova. Autumn Treasure is nice too, but not as sweet I find."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 3 April 2018
"Guys Many thanks for all your help. I have bought Autumn Bliss and Allgold and I hope to plant them today. I find this site very useful. I will report my experience."
Uisdean Vass on Saturday 7 April 2018
"Good luck!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 10 April 2018
" 12 foot high Raspberry canes. Each year our Autumn cropping raspberries give more than enough fruit to ignore the greedy blackbirds (and other feathered friends) who enjoy the fruit as much as we do! This year we are being selfish and intend to cage the fruiting canes and keep the fruit for ourselves. As these raspberries ( Autumn bliss variety) grow to a height of 10 to 12 feet. When we grew the same variety back in the UK they always grew to an average height of just five feet My question is; is it Ok to nip out the growing tip to stop them growing too tall? , OR will this effect the fruit yield? Looking forward to your advice Peta in France "
Peta in France on Sunday 22 April 2018
"Wow Peta, it sounds like your raspberries are growing very vigorously in France! I've never had autumn-fruiting rasps grow that tall for me, but if you search for Barbara Pleasant's article 'The Right Way to Pinch and Prune Raspberries' in the search box at the top of this page you'll find advice on keeping them in check (specific advice for autumn-fruiting varieties is towards the bottom of that page). Pruning may delay fruiting, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how hot the weather gets where you are."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 24 April 2018
"Thank you for taking the time to advise Anne Marie I shall take a look .... I must have missed that one. By the way it 28 degrees in the garden today but cooling down as the week passes. peta in France "
Peta Edwards on Tuesday 24 April 2018
"Planted Autumn Bliss bare rooted plants late April this year. The cane of each is about 30cm tall and is sprouting. Do I do anything now. There is no sign of growth at soil level."
Felicity Grundy on Friday 18 May 2018
"Hi Felicity. You don't need to do anything right now, except maybe water if it has been dry. Your canes will grow away from the top. You should see new canes emerging from soil level next year."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 22 May 2018
"M raspberry was bought as an Autumn Bliss, I planted it in September 2016, it has never produced fuit, on ly long canes, could it actually be a summer fruiting variety, I was cutting canes back in February so if it is summer one I obviously cut off the buds, I would like some advice as I so wanted an Autumn fruiting cane."
denise french on Saturday 8 September 2018
"Thought I’d share my experience in case anyone comes to read this, as I would have found useful if i had read this. I planted 7 polka and 7 Joan j last autumn. Did not bother putting up wire or string to support them, after reading somewhere this wasn’t needed. All 7 polka survived winter and 5 of the Joan j did (I stay in Dundee). The polka produced earlier and so far at least is significantly more productive and tastier. The canes are very brittle and break easily if they snag as I brush past plant or I pull a raspberry without holding cane. Joan j has no thorns and raspberries are nice but in my view not as good as polka (less sweet and less tangy; slightly watery in comparison; less flavour all round). Canes are slightly shorter, more upright and less brittle. Without any support at all, all the canes of both types largely lie horizontally on the ground. I will put supports in this winter for next year. It is mid sept of year 1 and canes still going strong. I have probably harvested so far about half the raspberries I could buy with the cost of the canes. Unless they all stop producing next week and die over winter, I will be quids in. In summary: unless you are terrified of thorns, I think polka is better than Joan j, though both better than average raspberry I buy in supermarket. It is definitely worth erecting some king of support. If you have space, even if the fruit weren’t better than that in shop (which it is) you will probably make costs back in year 1. "
Graham on Friday 21 September 2018
"Hi Denise. You could try leaving some canes unpruned to see if they then fruit in the summer. It would also be worth making sure that your soil is fertile enough - give your raspberries a mulch of compost to give them a boost. Avoid using any high-nitrogen fertilisers as they can promote lush green growth at the expense of flowers and fruit. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 25 September 2018
"Great tips Graham. Your point about autumn raspberries being described as not needing support is a good one - I often see this in advertising blurb but I've always found they do need a string or wire either side of the row to stop them flopping over. It's interesting to hear your thoughts on Polka vs Joan J too. I haven't tasted Joan J, but I agree, Polka is exceptionally delicious! "
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 25 September 2018
"It's going to frost tonight here in SE Wisconsin. My everbearing raspberries are at the peak of harvest time due to a very late start to the growing season. I want them to keep producing! So should I cover the patch? It sits on the east side of the house down in the basement walkout area."
Donna on Friday 28 September 2018
"Hi Donna. I sometimes find that a hard frost will make my raspberries go quite soft, although they shouldn't come to much harm with a light frost. No harm in covering them up though if you're worried."
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 28 September 2018
"Thanks for your input. I did indeed throw some old blankets over my berries last night, but they probably would've been okay. This is our 3rd season here - and by far the latest for them to come on. The canes are loaded with lots of potential fruit that I'd like to harvest in the next 2-3 weeks. I always try to be prepared and accepting of the end of a growing season...and then I always freak out and try to extend things as long as I can. ??"
Donna on Sunday 30 September 2018
"I'm with you on that Donna, I can never resist trying to squeeze just that little bit more out of the growing season! Sometimes it even works..."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 4 October 2018
"How closely can you space rows of autumn-bearing raspberries? Also, I planted 4 bushes in a 16' strip last year and now they space between the plants is all filled in. It's early winter now (here in Virginia) and I am getting ready to cut them down. How should I handle the "thickening" bushes?? "
Heather on Saturday 24 November 2018
"Hi Heather. About 18 inches apart is a good spacing. Raspberries will naturally produce runners or suckers that throw up new canes (sometimes a considerable distance away from the mother plant!), and will fill the spaces in between plants quite quickly. Cut down all the canes now, and dig out any runners that are growing away from the row. They still grow well when pretty crowded, but you might like to cut out some of the new canes that are coming up to help reduce congestion and make the fruits easier to find in amongst all the foliage! I hope that helps."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 27 November 2018

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