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You may have heard and been confused by the terms June-bearing, summer-bearing, ever-bearing and fall-bearing raspberries. First, let it be understood that there are only two types, those that bear the bulk of their fruit in about June and those that bear mostly in the fall.

While there are cultivars that have been selected to be summer-bearing or fall-bearing, how/if you prune your canes really determines the quality and timing of your harvest.

The key to understanding the timing of raspberry production boils down to recognizing the two types of stems that raspberries have, primocanes and floricanes. Primocanes are the green, fleshy stems that emerge from the soil in early spring. If these canes are not cut, and do not die back in winter, the following year they are woody with more branching and are called floricanes. Fall bearing varieties are simply those that have been selected to bear fruit on primocanes (first year canes). Summer bearers produce fruit on floricanes (second year canes). Floricanes die the winter following production. The term ever-bearing comes in when a primocane variety (able to produce fruit on first year canes) is managed to produce floricanes. This double cropping method works but tends to reduce the fall yield.

Much confusion between the bearing types comes from the fact that fruit can be produced from most varieties in summer or fall depending on how you manage the canes themselves. If you are treating a fall or summer variety incorrectly, you will likely get subpar crops simply because your variety has been selected to be summer bearing and you are treating it as fall bearing or vis versa.

For summer bearing varieties, late this fall you need to remove the floricanes that produced fruit this year and leave the primocanes that will flower next year. The floricanes will be woody and the primocanes will be new growth. Sometimes the primocanes will produced some fruit so watch for the canes with branches with multiple spent flowers. If you are in an area that tends to get early frost, go for a summer-bearing variety. Fall bearing varieties tend to need a longer growing season.

For a good crop on fall-bearing raspberries, cut all canes off close to the ground (2 or 3 inches high) in late winter or early spring. This puts all the growth into new canes that will bear a heavy fall crop. This approach eliminates the selective pruning needed to preserve summer-bearing canes. It can also help prevent winter injury to the overwintering canes and reduces disease problems.

Regardless of which method you choose, it is a good idea to burn the pruned canes to help prevent pests and disease problems. If you do an internet search for “Raspberry Management for Utah” you can find an 8-page publication from Utah State University that gives a concise summary of caring for raspberres as well as recommendations for both summer and fall-bearing variety recommendations. Canby, Cascade Delight and Reveille are good summer-bearing cultivars for our area. Polana, Joan J, and Polka are some recommended fall-bearing cultivars.

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