Raspberries, Blackberries, and their Hybrids
Raspberries, blackberries and their hybrids (boysenberries, tayberries, and loganberries) are members of the Rose family. They are often called caneberries, as they produce berries on whip-like structures known as canes.
Caneberries have perennial roots but produce canes that live only two years. In their first year of growth the new canes are called primocanes; they produce leaves but not berries. In their second year of growth, the canes are call floricanes and will produce berries before they die in the fall. The first summer after planting there will be no berry harvest as all of the canes will be primocanes; the second year, a new set of primocanes will appear and the floricanes will produce berries. With proper care, caneberries will produce crops for 15 to 20 years.
Tips for Growing Caneberries
Choose a site that is in full sun for best yield. The site should also have well-drained, fertile, loam soil. Blackberries are somewhat tolerant of heavy soils, but raspberries are sensitive to wet soils and if planted in heavy soil they may die from lack of oxygen in the soil or from root rot or other root diseases.
Avoid planting caneberries where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, strawberries, or other caneberries have grown in the last 3 years, as these crops may have been infected with the same insect pests and diseases that can damage caneberries.
Begin preparing the soil in the year before you plant by eliminating all perennial weeds and keeping remaining weeds from going to seed. Add organic matter to the soil in the summer or fall to improve soil aeration and drainage. Check soil pH about 6 months before you plant, and amend soil as needed. Raspberries require a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, blackberries between 5.5 and 7.
Select a cultivar. Caneberries come in a variety of cultivars which differ in growth habit and disease resistance, as well as color and flavor. Buy certified disease-free plants from a nursery for best results. Whenever possible, choose plants that are resistant to at least some pests and viruses. For more information on cultivars that grow well in the Northwest, see:
Plant caneberries in the spring as early as you can work the soil. You will need to supply trellises for all cultivars of blackberries and for most raspberries. For detailed information on planting styles (hill vs. hedgerow) and trellising styles, see the publications at the bottom of this page.
Fertilize caneberries with a well-balanced fertilizer (such as 16-16-16) three times per year: early in the spring, and at one and two months later.
Water requirements for newly planted caneberries are ~1 inch per week from planting until late summer. Established plants will require 1 – 1½ inches per week from mid-June through late summer. Drip or under-canopy sprinklers are recommended as they reduce the chance of disease in the crown and canes.
Manage weeds by cultivating no deeper than 1-2 inches to avoid damaging the caneberry’s roots. Mulch may also be used to control weeds.
Prune only the floricanes and any damaged canes after the plants stop producing berries in the fall. See the publication(s) below for additional information about special pruning needs for plants with various growth habits.
Caneberries are sensitive to cold damage, heat damage, and a variety of insect and plant diseases. In general, blackberries are less susceptible than raspberries to these problems. See the publications below for more information.
Do you want to find more berry and fruit resources for your garden? CLICK HERE to heck this collection of resources from OSU Extension.