Category Archives: Raspberries (Rubus idaeus)

Cornell Berry Diagnostics

The Cornell Cooperative Extensions Berry Diagnostic Tool is an excellent resource for anyone growing or interested in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, and gooseberries. This online tool allows anyone to select a berry crop and then from a variety of descriptions of plant growth issues, deformities, discolorations, damage, or other indicator that occurs on the whole plant, flower, fruit, or vegetative to continue to diagnose the issue. Lots of photographs and links to in depth articles are included about many diagnoses to really get to the “root” of the issue. Finally, recommendations for management of the issue can be selected after referring to the images and descriptions
Citation: Cornell Cooperative Extension. 2016. Cornell Fruit Berry Diagnostic Tool. Available online: Diagnosis. Accessed: 12 October 201

Fruit Soups

Fruit Soup Recipe

2 cups dry red wine 1 cup water ; 2/3 cup sugar ; 2 whole star anise ; 2 cinnamon sticks; 1 (12-ounce) basket fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced;  1 (6-ounce) basket fresh raspberries;  1 (4.4-ounce) basket fresh blueberries;  1 pint vanilla bean gelato or ice cream

Directions: Combine the wine, water, sugar, star anise, and cinnamon sticks in a heavy large saucepan. Add all but 1/2 cup of each of the berries. Bring the liquids to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the fruit is very tender, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Discard the star anise and cinnamon sticks. Transfer the berry mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer and into a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, stirring occasionally, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day ahead. Cut the reserved strawberries into small pieces. Place a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato or ice cream in the center of 8 decorative dessert glasses or soup bowls. Divide the mixed berry soup among the glasses, being careful to pour around the gelato. Sprinkle the reserved berries over the soup and serve immediately. Thank you to Giada De Laurentiis for a delicious mixed berry soup with gelato recipe. Doing research on berry information is when I learned that people really do make soup from berries. You can heat it up and use it as a topping or throw some whipped cream on it for a cold topping. Sounds delicious!   AK Fairbanks

Spotted Wing Drosoplila

The Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences publishes a scientific newsletter called the New York Berry News. These newsletters publish a variety of articles relating to berries and berry production including topics like: frost protection, post-harvest care, organic farming, pests and diseases, etc. I found the newsletter of great interest because of the wide diversity of topics all related to berries and creating healthy berry habitats whether wild or cultivated. Although most of these articles are mostly concentrated on berries growing in the New York State area, I found that much of the information given can be used as helpful tips and guides for growing and managing berries here in Alaska. One of the articles I found interesting is about the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD).

The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) is an invasive small fruit fly that is a major pest problem for raspberries, blackberries and other cane berries as well as blueberries, strawberries, grapes and other small fruits and berries. The SWD is originally native to Asia but in 2008 the first confirmation of SWD was found in California (Wold-Burkness & Hahn) and since then has spread throughout most of the fruit growing regions in the United States. Found in New York State in 2012, the SWD has caused serious crop losses in every year since (Wallingford & Loeb).

The SWD is a small fly that typically measures only about 2-3mm long, has big red eyes and a yellow/brown body (Wold-Burkness & Hahn). The abdomen has small rings around it and large clear wings. They are hard to identify against other small fruit flies, but the males do have a large black spot near the top and back half of their clear wings (Wold-Burkness & Hahn). The SWD larvae are commonly called maggots and have small tubular shaped bodies with no legs.

The adult SWD inserts its eggs under the skin of young fruit both wild and cultivated. In New York the SWD populations are relatively low during the spring months, but as fruit begins to ripen and berries are in large abundance the populations are also in large concentrations and this is why so many berry crops are suffering (Wallingford & Loeb). The adult SWD flies feed on thin skinned soft fruit such as berries, grapes, and plums. The larvae will feed on the fruit under the skin and cause the fruit tissue to be browned and squishy. Sometimes the damage to the fruit that the larvae produce will go unnoticed until after harvest and can be seriously detrimental to harvest production.

In New York pesticides are used in effort to control SWD populations but often weekly doses are needed to keep infestation levels down (Wallingford & Loeb). Weekly insecticide applications can be expensive and also damaging to the plants health and production rates and many growers are experiencing “sprayers fatigue” (Walligford & Loeb). In addition to the damage the flies cause and the damage from over spraying of pesticides, these flies can make the plants more susceptible to infestation by other insects, rot fungi and diseases (Wold-Burkness & Hahn).

There are currently many studies on the SWD and their effects on fruit production including studies relating to growth cycles, winter/cold survival, organic pest control, cultivating techniques, etc. These are relatively new pests in the United States and although I cannot find anything confirming their existence in Alaska, it seems that it is only a matter of time before we are also actively battling the Spotted Wind Drosophila. If you are looking for more information about the SWD I have attached both the New York Berry News article as well as a study conducted by the University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension Program. LH Fairbanks

Wallingfor, A. and Loeb, G. 2016. Spotted Wing Drosophila: Winter Biology. New York Berry News. 15 (2): 5-18. Available online: Accessed: 10 Oct. 2016.

Wold-Burkness, S. and Hahn, J. 2016. Spotted Wing Drosophila in Home Gardens. Insects. University of Minnesota, Extension. Available online: Accessed: 10 Oct. 2016.


Raspberry Cultivars for Alaska

 I found a great paper on UAF’s website that has information on raspberries. The beginning talked about where to plant these berries and what areas to grow them in and it made me think of the screen cast including wild stand management. Summer bearing red raspberry cultivars inlcude:

• ‘Boyne’ (cold hardy in Southeast, Southcentral and Interior, not tolerant to varied temperatures, early harvest)

• ‘Canby’ (cold hardy in Southcentral, disease resistant, early harvest)

• ‘Chilliwack’ (hardy in Southeast, some root rot resistance)

• ‘Festival’ (Southcentral, hardy, mid- to late season harvest)

• ‘Haida’ (very cold hardy in Southeast and Southcentral, some resistance to root rot, late harvest)

• ‘Indian Summer’ (hardy in Southcentral, vigorous plant, mid-season harvest)

• ‘Kiska (Interior Alaska cultivar, very cold hardy, lower quality fruit)

• ‘Latham’ (very cold hardy in Southeast, Southcentral and Interior, root rot resistant, long established Minnesota cultivar, early harvest)

• ‘Nova’ (hardy in Southeast and Southcentral, early harvest)

• ‘Prelude’ (very cold hardy in Southcentral, root rot resistant, early harvest)

• ‘Reville’ (cold hardy in Southcentral, mid- to late season harvest)

• ‘Skeena’ (very cold hardy in Southeast, Southcentral or Interior, root rot susceptible, early harvest)

• Titan (hardy, Southcentral only, susceptible to viruses and root rot)

There was also very detailed information about planting raspberries that I thought was very interesting! LF Fairbanks

Strik, B. Available online: Berry Crops.  Accessed on 5 Oct, 2016.

Propagating my own Raspberries

    There are many ways to propagate berries. Some are easier than others but all take some amount of work and continued maintenance, if you want your berries to continue to produce at the level they should. My favorite methods include cuttings, runners, and transplanting. I have the most experience with transplanting because my patch of raspberries was entirely grown in this way. A farm nearby had a very good patch of raspberries and the man who managed our garden many years ago decided he wanted to start a patch for our farm. I learned much from him and he told me how he transplanted the berries and taught me how to care for them.
     His first step was traveling to the nearby farm and selecting the best canes, some of which stood fairly apart from the main plant; he pruned them back a bit so they weren’t too much trouble to handle. Experience taught him the best canes to pick for this were second year canes which had already produced and to dig them when the ground became dig-able in the spring before the canes began to bud. Step one he used a pointed shovel and cut the ground around the cane in a circle so that when the cane was pulled up a nice piece of rootball came with it. He then had to transport his nearly 400 plantings for an hour in the back of a big van to our farm. By making sure that all the roots were still covered by plenty of dirt he ensured that they would not dry out too badly on the trip. Some methods for protecting roots for transplanting like this are: put the rootball of the plantings in a damp burlap sack and tie the top so the roots are completely covered. The planting could be put in a bucket of very damp soil till planting (Empress of Dirt) a bucket of damp sand also works for this; if your dirt is not ready yet the transplants could be planted in a container for a growing season and put in the ground later when they become dormant again (northscaping).
     The area that was set aside for the raspberries was large; nearly half acre of land that had been tilled and fertilized with old manure. This rich bed had been prepared in advance of his going to collect the transplants. It is best to find a spot for planting and prepare it before digging up the plantings so their roots spend the least amount of time above ground (Empress of Dirt). Holes were then dug about two feet apart. Depending on how much you plan to prune your bushes make sure they are far enough apart so that they don’t immediately crowd each other with new growth. Also create your rows at least 6 feet apart from the edges of the inside bushes. The bushes with quickly grow a lot of vegetation and these walkways will quickly become impassible if the bushes are not pruned often; this I know just by the last 5 years of having to prune said bushes. After the bushes were planted my mentor then put in fence posts every 12 feet or so in a line down the center of each row. He then nailed a cross piece about four feet high on each posts and ran lines of bailing twine along each side of the bushes to hold them upright and later to keep the thick new growth from hanging too far into the walkway. This worked for a few years but did need to be changed periodically as it wore out. Lines of wire or ropes can also work for this (homeguides). Another method of securing canes is trellising; I have not personally tried it but find it interesting and perhaps in the future will use it just to see how it does for me ( this method is pretty easy to follow.
     The raspberries have been growing now for about eight years and are pretty healthy still. I cut them back a lot especially the row length because 270 feet is just too long for a row, 150 seems to work fine. I prune them every fall and also a few times during the growing season if the new growth is getting out of hand. I put down old manure every two years and water them with soaker hose irrigation. One issue I have run into, because of the closeness of the rows is that sunlight does not get down into the bushes the way it should. To fix this I have cut down one entire row and may have to cut more. I think that by staggering the rows with larger walkways more light should reach the inside bushes. In the future I plan to rely more on mulching than mowing and tilling to help keep weeds down. Our local sawmill has an abundance of wood chips so I will probably use that. As of now I have 7 rows of a red variety known as Canby and one row of yellow called Amber. Both have slightly different taste and the reds tend to produce earlier and faster than the yellow but many people like the yellow’s mildly, sweet flavor. I like them both and do everything in my power to make them produce well every summer. AB Delta Junction
By Amelia Alloys: How to secure raspberry canes to wires. Accessed Sept. 26, 2016
By James Kohut:    10 tips for minimizing transplant shock, Accessed Sept. 26, 2016
By Melissa J. Will:   How to transplant raspberries. Accessed Sept. 26, 2016
By Melissa K. Norris:  How to tie and trellis raspberries. Accessed Sept. 26, 2016

Raspberry Jam

Berry Jam

During my time in Alaska I had a very healthy raspberry patch. As they are my all time favorite berry I canned quite a bit of jam to serve on everything…waffles in the morning, biscuits at night, and ice cream for dessert! I like to keep foods as healthy and simple as possible for my kids. The following link has a great step by step for making the same type of jam that I make for my family. CS

Hemp Nettle in Raspberries

Hemp Nettle the thorn in my side

If you had asked me four years ago what Hemp Nettle was I would have looked at you blankly. When I first began taking care of the large vegetable garden I now run, along with its half-acre raspberry patch, my biggest weed issues were run of the mill chick weed and lambs quarter. These weeds are common, easy to identify, and fairly manageable. I was not concerned with them; they were a nuisance nothing more. Then I began to notice a new type of weed; at first there was just a few in the raspberry patch and I wasn’t worried. I have noticed that weeds tend to grow among plants that they closely resemble, perhaps as a defense mechanism and it took me awhile to realize how wide spread the infestation truly was.   This is a picture of part of my patch as you can see it is relatively large; the rows were each about 270ft long. I struggled a few years to irrigate it properly, but after a while realized the rows were just too long for enough water to flow evenly from one end of row to the other end.   To fix this issue I cut each row down to about 170 ft. and then purchased some very nice a soaker hoses off Amazon; I used the Dramm Color storm ¾, 50 ft hoses. All this to say a large 150 sq. ft. area of the garden was not being weeded or cultivated; by the end of last summer I had so much Hemp Nettle growing in this area and throughout the raspberry patch it was completely out of control. The plants by July were up to my waist in height and threatening to encroach into the rest of my garden. As you can see by the picture below the Hemp Nettle looks very similar to the raspberries. Only by looking closely at the leaves and by noticing the plants small pink blossoms can you really see the difference between the two plants.

This summer I waged a never ending war against this weed. I mostly cut it back with my Husqvarna brush cutter and managed to keep most of the weeds under control by cutting, mowing, and tilling the patch whenever I had time all summer. The Hemp Nettle is so tough though that even now after many frosts it is still going strong; I took the pictures above this afternoon. Hemp Nettle is considered a noxious weed in Alaska and parts of Canada and I can testify from experience that you do not want this weed in your garden or berry patch. I write this report merely to say if you ever see this weed in your patch destroy it with speed and finality; if you give it an inch it will take a mile and you will have to fight every step of the way to get that land back. Here are a few links about how to identify Hemp Nettle and ways to fight it.,,,  AB Delta Junction