Boy, you all are quite the impatient group. Three weeks ago I gave an introduction on raspberries and how they grow. I gave you the teaser that in my next article, which is this one, we would discuss planting, trellising and variety selection.
No fewer than 20 phone calls and emails streamed in by the end of the working day Friday asking for recommendations on what varieties they should purchase. Apparently, these unseasonably warm temperatures have led to outright zeal. And I admit that I appreciate your eagerness and planning tendencies, however, there is still ample time to order plants, and its still too early to stick any bareroot in the ground.
If you want to plant raspberries, I recommend taking the time to prepare the beds. Remember, these are perennial plants, with thorns. You dont want to spend too much time or lose too much blood trying to significantly amend the soil after they are planted. According to Joel Reich, Colorado State University Extensions de facto small fruit expert, its best to add lots of organic matter and raise the bed in order to improve aeration and drainage which most berries appreciate. When preparing the soil, add 1 cubic yard of composted manure and about 5 cubic feet sphagnum peat moss for every 20 feet of a 5-foot-wide row. Reich also recommends adding a small amount of fertilizer. Try using two cups of an organic, poultry-waste-based fertilizer (8-2-1) in the same amount of space. This would be about 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Check the local nurseries, as they are also a great resource for fertilizers.
Unless you want your berries to run amok and stab your toes, you will also want to trellis the plants to get them off the ground. Provide a support stake every 10 feet or so, stretch a support wire on either side of the row at about 3 feet off the ground. You can also place additional wires higher or lower to provide additional support.
So which varieties should you grow? Some suggestions from Joel (and to a lesser degree, myself):
Boyne and Killarney: Cousins from Canada, both are very cold tolerant. Small- to medium-sized fruit, good for eating.
Nova: Also from Canada, berries are firm, medium to large in size, with a good shelf life. They ripen later than Boyne or Killarney. Not very thorny. This summer-bearing variety may also set a late-fall crop depending on the seasons weather.
(Keep in mind that these produce on current growth, so theres less of a concern about cane hardiness.)
Anne: Large, pale yellow fruit very high in flavor. Very sweet.
Autumn Britten: Produces earlier than Heritage (older, popular variety) with large, firm fruit. Can bear fruit from late summer through fall.
Jacyln: Also produces a couple weeks earlier than Heritage with large, firm berries. Darker red in color and tends to hold tight to the cane until fully ripe.
Caroline: Produces fruit later in the season, but has an intense raspberry flavor. Not tolerant to drought.
Royalty: Purple variety with very sweet fruit. Canes can be very thorny and long. Make sure to wait until the color is consistently purple to harvest.
email@example.com or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.