Bare Root Raspberry Canes – 3 and 4 month updates

I know this is quite late, but here are some updates from my bare root raspberry canes from last year.  The last updated had been the 2 month update.  Here’s how things went the rest of the summer (and fall) of 2016.

I started to get my first raspberries to pick around mid august on the floricanes.  The Joan J were ready a bit sooner than the Anne berries.

Many of the Joan J berries I got the first year were not very big.  I’m not sure if this is because it was the first year, because the soil conditions aren’t optimal, or if it is because the area doesn’t get enough sun.  I will be able to rule out if it is first year issues next year (assuming things grow well in year 2).  Here’s a picture of one of the first Joan J berries that I picked:

Joan J berry picked from primocane, year 1, August 16, 2016.

I gave most of the berries to my kids and they said they tasted good.  A few they said were a bit bitter, but the majority they said were good.  I tasted a few too.  Overall, I think people did think the Anne berries tasted better. They also seemed to grow a little bigger but I only got a few of them the first year.  Here’s a picture of one of the first Anne berries I picked:

Anne raspberry picked from floricane, year 1, on August 24, 2016.

My plants were starting to flop over quite a bit, and they didn’t even have any weight from berries yet. Some shoots were growing along the ground or the ones that were upright and tall enough were starting to bend.

Row of raspberry canes in the shadier area, leaning North and West where they can try to get more sun, before I added a trellis. The flowers were close to the ground so I decided to add a trellis.

I read quite a bit about how to build a trellis for raspberry plants.  The best options look to require quite a bit of work, specifically with putting in posts properly at the ends.  Since I wasn’t sure how well the plants were going to do in the long run, and because I didn’t want to put in a lot of time and money, I decided to go with the simplest type of trellis.

My trellis is basically one metal post at each end of the row with twine tied between the metal posts.  I bought 6 foot tall metal posts figuring I would hammer them in about 8-12 inches and still have them tall enough to have levels of twine at about 3 feet and 5 feet.  One thing I was aware of but maybe underestimated: the posts have to be stiff enough to not bend under pressure.  The posts I bought are pretty thick and they were much harder to hammer into the ground than the smaller posts I used to make the chicken wire fence.  I probably hammered them in about 6-8 inches, but that isn’t far enough.  I tried to angle them slightly away from row, so that the tension would straighten the posts.  I didn’t get much angle and it doesn’t take much tension to pull the posts towards each other.

Posts used for trellis – the thicker green posts with the beige tops are 6 foot posts used as a trellis.
Raspberry row in the shadier area after being placed in trellis. I used two strands of twine at two different levels to try to keep the plants upright.
Raspberry row in the area with more sun after being placed in trellis. I used two strands of twine at two different levels to try to keep the plants upright.

The raspberries were starting to come in – just a few each day.  On August 31, here are 4 raspberries I picked – 3 Joan J and 1 Anne:

Three Joan J red raspberries and one Anne yellow raspberry.

Unfortunately, the trellis didn’t really solve the problem of plants curling over or slumping.  Within a few days, the taller plants would “slide” along the twine and lay down along the direction of the twine, or they would just curl over the top of the twine.

September 3, 2016 showing trellis and plants either curling or sliding around trellis.

In early September, I was getting a lot more flowers forming and starting to form into raspberries.  The Joan J were definitely forming more flowers than the Anne, but I expected that.

September 9, 2016, lots of flowers forming on Joan J.

Unfortunately, while the trellis helped hold the plants up off the ground, it also caused problems with the friction it caused against the plants.  I had one nice plant snap off at the level of the trellis and I lost all of the flowers that had formed on the tip of that plant.  I tried to come up with better options to keep the plants upright, but also keep the friction and pressure on the plants to a minimum.  I tried different things like using twist ties to hold the plants to a specific spot on the twine, or actually tie a piece of twine around the plant and then tie the other end of the twine to the trellis.  Again, the problem was that whereever I tied the plant, there was force and friction which risked snapping the plant.  I’m not sure if it is just that my canes are not strong enough or if I was not doing it properly.

When I looked at other people’s raspberry plants online, mine did seem smaller and thinner.  I attribute some of that to this being the first year and I planted them on the late side.  I’ll know better in 2017 if that was the main issue.  It is also likely that because my area does not get full sun, that is hurting the growth.  It is also possible that the soil conditions are not idea.  I didn’t do any pH testing or any other real preparation of the soil before I planted the canes, aside from trying to remove as much of the grass that was there before I started.

Joan J berries growing. September 28, 2016.
Anne raspberries growing. They are close to the ground because the tips of the plants bent over the trellis. October 19, 2016.
Some raspberries still picked October 23, 2016.
Multiple Anne berries that were too slow to ripen before winter. November 19, 2016.

Now we’ll see how these primocanes survive the winter and hopefully they’ll grow some nice berries on the floricanes next summer.  Also, I’m hoping that new primocanes in 2017 will be much bigger and heartier than what grew in 2016 because this was just the first crop.

Some people suggest pruning all primocanes back and avoid the floricane crop entirely.  I’ve read suggestions that if you want a crop in the summer that it is better to plant a summer fruiting variety for that batch as they may produce a larger harvest and some people prefer the taste.  I may look into planting a summer fruiting variety for one of my sunnier places in the yard, but I’d have to make sure to chicken wire off the area first so I don’t lose the plants to the bunnies again.

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