The raspberry is a compound fruit composed of many small fruits. The skin of the fruit is smooth and fragile a" >



The raspberry is a compound fruit composed of many small fruits. The skin of the fruit is smooth and fragile and is red, dark purple, or yellow in color. The core of the fruit is hollow, distinguishing raspberries from blackberries.

Fragrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone and almost-melt-in-your-mouth texture, raspberries are wonderfully delicious and are usually in limited supply. Most cultivated varieties of raspberries are grown in California from June through October.

A member of the rose family and a bramble fruit like the blackberry, raspberries are delicately structured with a hollow core. Raspberries are known as "aggregate fruits" since they are a compendium of smaller seed-containing fruits, called drupelets, that are arranged around a hollow central cavity.

Raspberries are known as "aggregate fruits" since they are a compendium of smaller seed-containing fruits, called drupelets, which are arranged around a hollow central cavity. Their shape conveys to them a very delicate, almost "melt-in-your-mouth" texture. They are fragrantly sweet with a subtly tart overtone. While the most common type of raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is red-pink in color, raspberries actually come in a range of colors including black, purple, orange, yellow and white. Both loganberries and boysenberries are hybrids of raspberries.

Health benefits

Red raspberry is most often the source of a dietary supplement sold in many health food stores called ellagic acid. This substance found naturally in raspberries belongs to the family of phytonutrients called tannins, and it is viewed as being responsible for a good portion of the antioxidant activity of this (and other) berries.


Fertilizer or lime applications are best made following the recommendations based on the soil testing results. Forms, sample bags, and instructions for soil testing can be obtained from your local Extension office. Soil fertility should be maintained by two applications of one pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 feet of row at 10 and 40 days after planting. For the years after planting, raspberry plants need to be fertilized twice a year. The fertilizer should be broadcast in the row area once in the spring before growth begins in March, and one more time in May. Apply 2 to 3 pounds of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row in each application.


It is very important to understand the terms used to describe various parts of a raspberry plant before attempting to prune raspberries (Figure 1). Raspberry canes are of two types, primocanes and floricanes. Primocanes are first year canes while floricanes are second-year fruiting canes.

Summer red raspberries should be pruned twice a year, first in the spring and immediately after harvest (Figure 2). The spring pruning, in late March or early April, consists of removing all weak canes and cutting back tall canes (over 5 feet) to 4.5 to 5 feet. The second pruning consists of the removal of canes that produced fruits, right after harvest.

Everbearing red raspberries such as "Heritage" raspberry can be pruned to produce fruit once a year or twice a year. If you follow the pruning methods used for summer red raspberries, "Heritage" raspberry will produce fruit once in spring and once in fall. However, many home gardeners and commercial growers mow or cut all "Heritage" canes to the ground in early spring (March or April) for the sake of simplicity. "Heritage" raspberry pruned this way will produce only one crop starting in early August in southern Ohio, and mid-August in central Ohio.

Black and purple raspberries are pruned three times a year: in the spring, summer, and after fruiting (Figure 3). First pruning is done in spring when lateral branches are cut back to 8 to 10 inches in length in mid-March. Second pruning is called tipping or heading of new canes or primocanes. When grown without supports, summer tipping is done when black raspberry canes reach 24 inches in height and when purple types reach 30 inches. Tipping is done by removing the top 2 to 3 inches of new shoots as they develop. Third pruning involves the removal of canes that produced fruits, right after the harvest.

Weed Control and Soil Moisture Conservation

Mechanical removal of weeds is highly recommended. A mulch of straw, sawdust, or other appropriate material can be very helpful for weed control, and soil moisture conservation in the raspberry plantings where soil drains well. If soils are too heavy in texture and retain too much moisture, it may not be good to mulch raspberry plants. Mulching can worsen phytophthora root rot and/or verticillium wilt in raspberries planted in poorly drained soils.

Insects and Diseases

The principal insects of raspberries are the raspberry cane borer, raspberry fruitworm, red-necked cane borer, and Japanese beetle. The common diseases on raspberries are mosaic virus, orange rust, anthracnose, cane blight, spur blight, crown or cane gall, and verticillium wilt. For additional information about growing raspberries, you may purchase Bulletin 591, Growing and Using Fruit at Home; Bulletin 783, Brambles, Production, Management and Marketing; and Bulletin 780, Controlling Diseases and Insects in Home Fruit Plantings from your local Extension office.

Supporting the Plants

A trellis can help make the crop easier to manage and keep the canes off the ground so that berries are cleaner and easier to pick. A trellis can be constructed with posts at 15 to 20 foot intervals with cross arms to support wires placed 24 to 28 inches apart (Figure 4). The wires should be about 36 inches high for red raspberries and 40 inches high for the black and purple types.

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