Caning berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, and loganberries are just about the easiest fruits to grow in Western Washington. Our damp springs and cool summers are ideal for producing heavy crops with minimum effort. This care sheet will tell you how to plant and care for caning berries in the Pacific Northwest.
For detailed information on varieties, please refer to individual plant signs or consult our nursery professionals.
CHOOSING THE PLANTS
CHOOSE YOUR VARIETIES according to flavor, harvest time, and planting space.
POLLINATION of caning berries is performed by bees. All are self-fertile so only one variety is necessary for successful yields.
TWO TYPES OF RASPBERRIES are listed: Ever bearing varieties fruit in June on last year’s canes and from August to September on the newly grown canes. Summer bearing varieties fruit heavily in June and July on last year’s canes.
SOIL PREPARATION & PLANTING
CHOOSE A LOCATION that receives full sun, in very well-drained acid soils rich in organic matter.
PREPARE THE SITE by digging in plenty of compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss.
PROVIDE A STURDY TRELLIS OR SUPPORT for canes to train on if you want best yields and quality fruit. Refer to the list of resource material at the end of this information sheet for sources.
SPACE RASPBERRIES 2–3 feet apart in hedge-like rows 6–8 feet apart, or individually in hills.
SPACE BLACKBERRIES 5 feet apart in a row.
WATER the new plants thoroughly, even if it is raining.
WATERING & FERTILIZATION
WATER THE PLANTS deeply. These are fruits that perform best with supplemental irrigation in summer.
FERTILIZE with a well-balanced fertilizer in April and again in late June or early July. Even well established plants should be fertilized in this way.
PRUNING CANING BERRIES
It is best to pick off any fruit during the first season so the canes will have a chance to establish a strong root system.
SUMMER BEARING RASPBERRIES: After the last harvest of summer, remove the old fruiting canes at ground level. In March or April, remove all weak, diseased or damaged canes at ground level. Leave only the most vigorous canes and train these along your trellis or support. You can remove canes year round that have sprouted up away from where you want them to grow.
EVER BEARING RASPBERRIES: Most people simply prune these plants the same as summer bearing varieties and expect a crop in fall. If you wish, you can get two crops on ever bearing type raspberries: one in late spring/early summer and one in fall. Last year’s canes will fruit this year on the lower half of the canes. They then will fruit on the top half in fall. In winter, prune off the top portion of the canes once they have fruited in the fall. Next year, the unpruned bottom halves will fruit, and the tops will grow up and fruit again.
BLACKBERRIES: Berries form on two-year-old canes except for the new variety ‘Prime Ark 45’, which bears on first-year canes. Once a cane produces berries it dies. After the last harvest, remove old fruiting canes at ground level. The canes that have sprouted up this year will provide next season’s berries.
DISEASE & PEST CONTROL
FEW DISEASE OR PEST PROBLEMS plague caning berries in our climate if the plants are properly sited, given good drainage to prevent root fungus, and are watered to avoid drought stress. Birds are perhaps the biggest threat to the crop. Use bird netting to discourage them from eating fruit.
GOOD GARDEN HYGIENE is also important. Use sharp, clean pruners to prevent damage and the spread of disease from other plants. Cleaning up dead leaves beneath the plants in the early spring is also a good practice. This will help eliminate any diseases or pests which may have overwintered there.
Recommended Resources on Caning berries
- The Berry Grower's Companion by Barbara L. Bowling. Timber Press, 2000.
- Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham. DK Publishing, 2010.
- All About Growing Fruits and Berries, Will Kirkman, editor. Ortho Books, 1976.
- Growing Small Fruits for the Home Garden. WSU Cooperative Extension.