Raspberry Guide: Choosing the right Raspberry
Summer Bearing vs Autumn Bearing
There are intricacies to the differences between Summer and Autumn bearing raspberries that are explored below, but at its simplest the difference is just as the names suggest. Summer bearing will produce fruit during July and Autumn bearing produces from August to September.
Summer Bearing varieties include: Boyne, Honey Queen and Royalty.
Autumn Bearing varieties include: Double Delight.
The Tale of Three Canes: Summer Bearing Raspberries
Summer bearing raspberries bear fruit only on the second year canes which means that at any given time there are three ages of canes in a patch: First year, Second year, and Third year. First year'ers come up out of the ground in the spring and look soft and green, gradually maturing and hardening as the summer progresses. They will be very lush and leafy, very pretty to look at. They are called Primocanes by raspberry geeks because they are first year, primo, uno, one. Makes sense right? Second year'ers will leaf out all along their stems in the spring and start to produce flowers. Second year'ers are called Floracanes because they flower, flora...flower... us plant nerds like to keep things simple! Third year canes are a real bummer as they are inert, dead sticks that need to be removed from your patch to keep it healthy. They are easy to find, just look for the very obviously dead sticks. We always wear heavy gloves for this spring time job as the canes have thorns along them. People have many gadgets and tools for taking out the dead third year canes, and anything will work: from special hooked knives to hand pruners. Cleaning up your raspberry patch shouldn't take a lot of time, its pretty fast and so satisfying to do because the row looks like a million bucks when its been cleaned.
Autumn Bearing Raspberries
These puppies are pretty amazing because they bear fruit on the first year canes, (remember what those are called? If you thought Primocanes, congratulations, your spot on!) Because this is a pretty cool trick for a raspberry they need some extra time to grow and flower and make fruit all on a cane that would have normally spent a whole summer growing just a cane. That is why their fruit is ready a month or two after the Summer Bearers. Also, because they only really need their first year canes for fruit production, you can easily clean your patch in the late fall before snow but after the canes go dormant, by running your lawnmower over the row.
So why grow Summer bearers if Autumn bearers are so easy to maintenance?
There are reasons for choosing either type, and initially it sounds like the world should convert to Aumumn bearers and chuck their cane pruners, and heavy gloves in the first available trash can. Autumn bearers are great, but many people feel that they have smaller yeilds when compared to Summer bearers. Its also really nice to grow both Summer and Autumn bearers to extend your picking time. Finally, lets not forget to consider the flavour of the berries. Many people seek out the flavour of, say, a Boyne because of its classic flavour profile. Double delight has a milder flavour, that is equally tasty, but different from Boyne.
At the end of the day, you really can't go wrong with picking any variety. All raspberries are yummy, and a joy to grow. If you are experiencing choice paralysis and can't decide; why not ask around for advice from friends or family who grow raspberries. Or experiment and grow one of each to experience their flavours and care before taking the plunge and converting your entire backyard to your own personal U-pick! Or email us, and we can chat with you and provide you with our personal favourites and experiences.
Sabados Greenhouse Team