The raspberry fruits, or to use their scientific name, Rubus idaeus, are delicious on the palate (besides being fantastic from the aesthetic point of view, due to their colors), and can be used for countless preparations: jams, salads of fruits, pies and excellent ice cream. In addition, there is nothing to prevent them from freezing, without giving up their characteristic flavor, and then consume them whenever we want. Raspberry is a particularly productive plant, which has the advantage of taking up little space: the only element you need is water, so its cultivation is not recommended in particularly hot climates. The raspberry prefers airy positions and tolerates partial shade with some ease, while being sensitive to strong winds: to favor ideal cultivation it would be better to use supports on which you can climb without difficulty.
On the soil, it must be said that this plant grows without problems with any type of substrate, even though clearly a soil rich in nutrients and fertile is preferred. It is advisable to dig lightly, adding compost or mature manure, in order to prepare it in the best possible way for planting. In conclusion, it must be known that raspberries grow in quite dense shrubs and that their roots produce numerous buds: they could give life to new branches, not necessarily close to the original plant. This is an aspect that must be taken into account when establishing the planting spaces for the plant. The seedlings must not be placed in-depth: this way, the new buds can reach the surface relatively easily.
Fertilization is essential to ensure good raspberry productivity. It can also be said that this practice allows better control of all stages of plant and fruit growth. In addition to basic fertilization, which must be carried out during the soil working phase to enrich it with an organic substance, raspberries also need maintenance fertilization. This follows all stages of plant growth and can be done with natural or mineral fertilizers. The most effective fertilization is, without a doubt, organic. The organic fertilizer must be distributed in the autumn, burying it at the foot of the plant. Among the most suitable organic fertilizers for growing raspberries, cow dung, feces, and chopped straw. Large-scale organic fertilization is very expensive for the producer, because, for good production, it is necessary to distribute up to one hundred quintals of fertilizer per hectare. On the other hand, chemical fertilization is simpler. For raspberries, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate, or urea are used. In this case, the doses to be administered are much lower than with organic fertilizer, no more than four yards per hectare. Chemical nitrogen-based fertilization should be done in the spring so as not to compromise the growth of the shoots in the fall.
The pruning of the raspberry is very simple to perform and essentially involves the removal of the sprouts that bear fruit, the removal of weak sprouts and unproductive branches, and the shortening of the branches that bear fruit. At the same time, dry, damaged or disease-affected parts must also be eliminated. The cuts should be made in late winter and early spring, to prevent the treated branches from being damaged by cold and frost. The parts to be removed vary depending on the raspberry variety. In fact, in the red raspberry, the fruit sprouts are from the same year, while in the black and purple raspberry the fruit sprouts are from the previous year. Before shortening the fruit branches, it is, therefore, necessary to identify those from the same year in red raspberry and the ones from the previous year in black raspberry.
The cultivation of raspberries also involves the intervention of mulch. This practice consists of covering the soil with straw or other organic material to prevent the accumulation of moisture, frost attacks, and weeds. In addition, with mulch, the soil is enriched with organic substances that will benefit fruit production. The mulch, however, causes depletion of nitrogen stores in the soil, stocks that are used by bacteria to decompose organic matter. To avoid problems of nitrogen deficiency, it is advisable to slightly increase the dose of nitrogen to be distributed to raspberries. The recommended dose is about fifty pounds more for each hectare of cultivated area.
During the cultivation of raspberries, we see the appearance of weeds. One solution to avoid them would be to leave the land fallow for a while. However, this method is not always effective. Sometimes, in fact, replanting raspberries on previously uncultivated land also causes a decrease in fruit production. In this case, we must weed, that is, eliminate the herbs that are foreign to the plant we are growing. In small areas, weeding can also occur by means of manual pulling, in large areas it is necessary to use herbicides. To save time, liquid mineral fertilizers enriched with substances with a herbicidal effect can be used. In some cases, chemical herbicides are also used. These should be distributed only in the weeds, taking care not to damage the raspberry leaves and branches. Unfortunately, chemical herbicides are toxic and highly polluting to the environment. One of them, atrazine, appears to have the effect of causing hormonal dysfunction in amphibians. A study in the United States found that some species of frogs that came into contact with atrazine developed female sexual characteristics, that is, they changed sex! A good method to prevent weeds from appearing is to dig the soil with the motorized hoe. In this way, the seeds of weeds carried by the wind are buried or destroyed, preventing predators from eating them and weeds from appearing at the expense of raspberries.
As for the season, the raspberry should be planted in the late autumn months, even if planting seedlings in late spring does not create problems. The seedlings must be placed at a distance of about half a meter from each other, which becomes one meter if we decide to choose two or more lines. A curiosity: the raspberry can also be grown on the balcony, in a simple pot, and gives rise to consistent harvests. Note that the fruits are born only in new branches, which means that the branches that have already fruit in the autumn should be cut at the base. At the end of the summer, however, it will be time to thin out the young shoots: only the most vigorous shoots should be left, while with the shoots removed, new plants can come to life. As mentioned, an essential element for growing raspberries is water, which must be supplied in abundance and regularly. The plant can be helped in early spring with compost or mature manure; throughout the year, on the other hand, it is recommended to apply mulch, which serves and favors the penetration of nutrients and at the same time maintains humidity.
The raspberry, it should not be forgotten, is a plant with a superficial root system: finally, in addition to the mandatory support, we must be attentive to birds, especially if the plant is in the open field. Better to prepare a safety net in advance. With regard to the varieties to choose from, it is important to distinguish between flowering raspberries, characterized by gradual fruiting, and unblown raspberries, which, starting in June, bear fruit for about four weeks. The remaining raspberries bear their first fruits in June, stop and restart in August, ending production definitively in October. On the other hand, there are also varieties that bear fruit until the first frosts appear, making them particularly suitable for areas with a mild climate. It is worth clarifying, about the harvest, that the raspberries must be harvested still hard but already with a beautiful bright red color.
Ripening must be checked every day, to prevent the fruits from falling to the ground and, by fermentation, favoring the attacks of gray mold, unanimously considered the raspberry’s worst enemy. When you decide to grow these fruits, you can afford: not everyone knows, in fact, that in addition to red raspberries there are also black varieties, called Munger, and yellow varieties, called Fallgold, and even varieties without thorns and precocious, the so-called Glen Moy. Other suggestions related to raspberry cultivation concern the substrate: the soil, in fact, should adhere as much as possible to the roots, paying attention to the possible appearance of air pockets. In the presence of roots that are not completely enveloped by the earth, in fact, there is a risk of rapid dryness due to insufficient nutrient absorption. It is also good to place some cuttings from the beginning: in fact, the shoots, even more when they are full of fruit, reach a considerable weight, which would be better supported with wire and cuttings. The growth of raspberries is only possible when it is possible to prevent water stagnation.
Good raspberry cultivation also requires regular and constant watering. The right amount of water does in fact provide excellent fruit production and good plant vigor. During the first year, you need to water abundantly in the dry and dry summer. In the following years, always in case of hot and arid summer and very drained soil, irrigation should always be abundant. Between June and August, it is necessary to distribute an average of seventeen to fifty centimeters of water, depending on the varieties grown, the climate, and the cultivation area. The best systems for irrigating raspberries are sprinkling and dripping. Water can be administered above and below the hair. The second method allows distributing water even in the hottest hours of the day. Sprinkler irrigation is useful when it is necessary to water abundantly, while in the case of a lack of water it is best to ration it with drip irrigation.