When choosing raspberry plants it is important to know there are two types, floricanes and primocanes.  The floricanes are also sometimes called “June bearing” or “summer bearing” Raspberries, while the primocanes are called” fall bearing” or sometimes “everbearing”.

 Summer Bearing Raspberries – Benefits and Drawbacks

The major benefit to these arefor processing the berries.  If you make a product ( jams, preserves,  juices etc.) or if you do home canning and you want to do it all at once then these varieties might be a good option.  Most of them ripen over a two or three week period in June and that is the crop for the year.  One drawback from our perspective  is that they bear only on 2 year old wood. This means a cane grows for a year and then fruits the following year.  So you will wait about 14 months for your first crop. After fruiting you need to cut down and remove this cane, while leaving the new, one year old canes growing.  This can be a little tedious sorting through them.  Another drawback can be New Mexico’s weather. Raspberries are an aggregate fruit and are derived from many ovaries within a single flower. Each fertilized ovary becomes one of the “bumps” on a berry.    If we get a late frost it can damage developing fruit or if in flower, prevent complete pollination.  If the weather cools down enough to keep bees inactive during the pollen receptive period or part of it you can get small and deformed berries or none at all.  Of course there are early, mid and late season summer bearers available.  I would suggest the late season types  if you go this route. I remember in spring of 2010 our last freeze of the year was May 25th with several earlier in the month.

 Everbearing Raspberries – Benefits and Drawbacks

 Depending on the variety these can start producing as early as late July but usually in August. They will continue until a good freeze stops them. The drawback is you will have to pick at least once a week and preferably twice a week as they ripen quickly.  To us these are the way to go.  They miss any issues caused by early bad weather and we get berries “out of season” .  For pruning in the winter you just mow down all the canes and that’s it.  No sorting or separating to prune.  This is an advantage over having canes in the winter that could be damaged by bad freezes in summer bearing varieties.  We found the amount produced weekly was sufficient to meet our fresh eating needs and we had enough extra for making  jam.  Raspberries can be taken straight from the field and frozen for use anytime up to a year later in processed products.  Because of all the benefits to everbearers, we are growing mainly this type.  We do have a section of summer purple raspberries planted since these aren’t available as primocanes.

 The varieties we planted last year were Polana and Polka (a new variety just introduced from Poland)   The quantity and quality of the berries we got this first year were exceptional. We were all amazed to get such large crops off plants that we had just put in the ground 4 months earlier.  We are very excited to see what happens as the rows fill in some this year and are expecting a bumper crop. 

 Neither type required trellising first year since they are very upright and didn’t get that tall (about 36”).  With a heavier crop load this year I think we may need to contain them from falling over.  The Polka was a shorter and blockier plant with thicker canes than Polana. It started out looking good but Polana overcame it in size and production slightly.  We will see if they stay similar in year 2.  At this point I would recommend either variety with Polana having the edge.  

This spring we will be adding 3 varieties, all everbearing to trial.  “Heritage” which is the standard for everbearers,  “Autumn Britten” which is supposed to have better flavor and “Anne “ which is a yellow raspberry.  We will keep you posted as too the results of production in the new as well as the older types