Meeker has been the dominate raspberry cultivar since the 1970’s. It remains the most common cultivar but there are an increasing number of other choices for growers. Northwest Berry Foundation is currently creating on-farm trials of promising cultivars. Go here to see a fact sheet prepared by the company. Information about the upcoming release of Cascade Premier can be found here. Fruit Growers News featured the new cultivar in their August issue
The following is a description complied by Pat Moore, Washington State University Small Fruits Plant Breeder, of just some of the more than 20 varieties grown in Washington. Unless otherwise mentioned, all are susceptible to Root Rot and should be grown only on well-drained sites, and all are susceptible to Raspberry Bushy Dwarf Virus (RBDV).
Autumn Bliss is an early season, fall fruiting variety from the East Malling breeding program. Fruit is produced two to three weeks before Heritage. Fruit can get dark if not picked on a tight schedule. Fruit quality in August is good, but deteriorates later in the season.
Caroline is a new fall fruiting cultivar released by the University of Maryland breeding program. It is supposed to produce large fruit one to three weeks earlier than Heritage.
Cascade Bounty was released as a new raspberry cultivar in 2005. It has been extremely productive in trials at WSU Puyallup. Cascade Bounty represents the first machine harvestable summer fruiting raspberry for the Pacific Northwest with significant levels of Root Rot tolerance, being very vigorous and producing high yields where most other cultivars do not survive. It also appears to have very good levels of cold hardiness. Machine harvest evaluations indicate that it machine harvests well, but the fruit does not have sufficient cohesion for IQF use. Because of the size, softness and acidity of Cascade Bounty, it is not recommended for fresh use.
Cascade Delight was released as a new raspberry cultivar in 2003. It is productive, with long fruiting laterals producing large, firm fruit. The fruiting season and productivity is very similar to Tulameen, though fruit size and firmness are greater. In research plots at WSU Mt. Vernon and Puyallup, it was very vigorous and withstood Root Rot where Tulameen, Meeker, Qualicum, and Comox could not.
Chemainus is a mid-season processing type that produces medium-large sized, medium-dark colored berries. It machine harvests well and can be used for processing and IQF. It can also be used for fresh market.
Coho was released in 1998 as a late season cultivar, ripening after Meeker. It is productive with large fruit that separate easily from the plant. Because of its time of ripening, it is most suited to fresh production. However, growers report that it is excellent as individual quick frozen (IQF) fruit. It is very susceptible to root rot.
Cowichan is a new cultivar that was released in 2001 by Agriculture AgriFood Canada. It has been resistant to Root Rot in greenhouse tests but is quite susceptible in many growers’ fields. It appears to be resistant to RBDV. It is machine harvestable, though difficult because it is very vigorous with long laterals.
Heritage is the traditional standard for fall fruiting raspberries. It can be very productive, but in most years in the Pacific Northwest, much of the fruit cannot be used because it is produced too late in the season.
Malahat ripens at a similar time as Willamette. However, Malahat is much larger, firmer and lighter-colored than Willamette and more productive. Malahat is very susceptible to Root Rot and is susceptible to RBDV.
Meeker was developed by Washington State University and released as a new cultivar in 1967. Meeker is vigorous with long fruiting laterals. Modifications to harvesters allowed Meeker to be machine harvested and by the late 1980s, Meeker was the predominate cultivar grown in Washington. Meeker is a sweet raspberry with the delicious flavor one expects, but bred to be stronger withstanding mechanical harvesting without loss of quality. This development has contributed greatly to Washington's elevation in status as one of the largest raspberry producing regions in the world. Meeker is the most widely planted raspberry in Washington and the Pacific Northwest, representing 80 % of the plants sold in Washington in 2003 and averaging almost 70% for 2001-2008. Meeker is a late season, very productive summer fruiting raspberry with excellent traditional raspberry flavor. It is a versatile cultivar with its fruit being usable for fresh, IQF, bulk frozen, juice or puree. Although it is acceptable for local fresh market use, other cultivars are larger and better for longer distance fresh markets. It is particularly sensitive to Root Rot as a new plant, but has more tolerance after it has become well established. RBDV infection causes a reduction in yield and crumbly fruit, which results in a lower grade fruit and reduces the longevity of plantings.
Saanich was released as a new raspberry cultivar around 2005. It is productive with high yields of fruit slightly larger than Meeker that machine harvests well. Saanich is a good IQF berry. Although susceptible to RBDV, it may be slow to become infected.
Summit is a fall fruiting variety that begins production at the same time as Autumn Bliss. Summit is very productive and highly tolerant of Root Rot. Fruit size and quality decline later in the season.
Tulameen is the standard variety for the fresh market throughout the world. It has a large fruit with an excellent, non-traditional raspberry flavor. Because of the large fruit size, it can be difficult to machine harvest.
Willamette is an early-fruited raspberry. It was developed by the Oregon breeding program in the early 1940s. It is one of the few cultivars resistant to RBDV. It has medium-small fruit that can become quite dark. The fruit can be removed from the bush very easily. When there are no other raspberry cultivars in production, Willamette can be sold fresh. Once other cultivars begin fruiting, Willamette is typically sold only for processing uses. Willamette has modest yields. It is not as winter hardy as many other cultivars.