Red Raspberry Industry Thrives in the Northwest
Washington Leads the Nation in Red Raspberry Production
Washington produces approximately 95% of the nation's red raspberry crop. Why? Because red raspberries, Rubus idaeus, thrive in the relatively cool, marine climate of the Pacific Northwest, west of the Cascades. Commercial production extends from Salem, Oregon, north through Washington into the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. Since the early 1980s, acreage has expanded, primarily because over-the-row mechanical harvesters have reduced the labor needed for harvesting. A raspberry planting may live and produce fruit for more than 30 years if it is planted in well-drained soil and cared for properly.
East of the Cascades, high summer temperatures can result in smaller plants and reduced yield. Small commercial plantings have been successful near Yakima and Spokane in cooler sites. Mid-winter temperatures below -2?F can cause extensive injury. In all locations, shelter plantings from winds to prevent desiccation of the canes. Since all raspberry flowers are considered self-fertile, no additional cultivar is needed for pollination. Pollen is transferred by bees that prefer raspberry flowers because of the high nectar level. Spring frost injury is generally not a problem in areas west of the Cascades because flowers appear relatively late in the spring.
Summer and Fall Bearing Plants
Two types of raspberries are grown in the Pacific Northwest. Summer-bearing, or June-bearing types, initiate flowers on first-year canes, or primocanes, from late August to early September. The canes overwinter, bloom, and fruit the following spring and summer, then die. While the fruiting canes, or floricanes, are bearing, new primocanes emerge for the next year's crop and continue the life of the planting. Root systems are perennial. Fall fruiting types, also known as everbearing or primocane fruiting types, bear fruit on the top half of first-year-canes from early August through late September. They overwinter and produce a second crop on the lower half of the canes the following June through July.
No one variety can be universally recommended. Summer bearing plants have ample plant vigor, but they produce fruit with different flavors. The earliest ripening varieties usually produce mature fruit by the second week in June in the southern districts, and one or two weeks later in the northern regions. The potential harvest season lasts four to six weeks. The earliest ripening fall-fruiting types usually have fruit by the first week in August in the southern districts and can produce fruit until the start of the fall rains. In fact, later ripening, fall-fruiting types have had limited acceptance in the past because they bear late in the season.