Raspberries are one of the most economically viable fruits in northern Europe, Canada and the USA.
This hardy fruit is believed to have originated from eastern Asia. The fruit is commonly used as a pastry filling, liquor flavors and in making jams.
Many people also enjoy this fruit raw as it is loaded with high amounts of vitamin c, iron and antioxidants.
According to the U.S department of agriculture, raspberry shrubs have a hardiness zone of between 4-9.
This means that this crop requires minimal maintenance as it grows. Cold temperatures, however, affect the growth of these vibrant crops.
Since many raspberry varieties break dormancy during winter, it is vital to winterize raspberry plants even when the temperature is below the freezing point.
Best ways to take care of your raspberries during winter
Below are the top tips to help keep your raspberries vibrant even when the temperatures are very low.
- Cut away the sick plants.
Unhealthy raspberry plants appear as rotten, weak, small and attacked by fungus and parasites. It is likely that raspberry plants in such conditions will not make it through winter.
It is therefore recommended to cut these plant parts just below the affected areas. Eliminating sick raspberry plants also prevents the spread of these conditions to healthy plants.
Don’t forget to burn the bushes after cutting them away to make sure that the problems are entirely eliminated.
- Keep watering your raspberries.
Many people stop watering their raspberries right after they stop fruiting. It is worth noting that these crops use this dormancy period to regain most of what they lost.
Continued watering of raspberry plants ensures that they are hardened during the cold season, promoting sustained growth. It would be best if you keep watering your raspberries until the appearance of the first frost.
- Burry the new raspberry plants
Raspberry plants, especially the new ones, are highly sensitive to cold temperatures. Their only solution is burying the flexible canes to the ground. Although the conditions will still be the same when they are partially underground, the induced rooting will be a point of support and nourishment for the young plants.
In this regard, it is recommended to cover the canes with a significant amount of fertile soil.
- Prune the brown canes
Raspberries produce brown canes during summer. Although these canes may survive until the winter season kicks off, it is hard to survive during the winter.
Since in most cases the brown canes have gone through fruiting in the past season, it is reasonable to cut them and leave the green, healthy canes for fruiting. Winter pruning requires that the brown canes are cut down to the soil.
- Disinfect the bushes
Due to the damp conditions of the soil, organisms such as mold and fungi have a high survival rate in winter. The area near the raspberry roots is hence susceptible to damage from these agents.
In this sense, disinfection is the process of preventing the growth and spread of traces of these microorganisms to the nearby plant parts. A mixture of copper, sulfur and water is commonly used for this purpose.
It is, however, essential to follow the directions provided in their manuals.
- Eliminate the old plants
Other than removing brown canes from healthy raspberry plants, it is also a good practice to remove old plants entirely. Time-worn raspberry plants are generally highly branched and in most cases, dead.
It would help if you again cut all their branches to the soil level and uproot the plant roots. It would be best if you always left the straight trunked raspberry plants during winter.
Since raspberries are annual plants, old bushes may not fruit again; hence there is no need to keep them.
- Support your plants
Soil sweeping due to heavy rains in winter may cause a change of position of your raspberry plants. Supporting features help guard your plants against this issue.
You can install horizontal wires for larger bushes and tie a twist, the branches with a rubber tier. If you have a few raspberry plants, you can plant vertical sticks to support your plants.
A barrier fence can also help guard your raspberry against strong winds or heavy rains that may cause severe plant breakages.
The winter season should not be an extension of dormancy for your raspberry plants but rather a preparation period to bring you more healthy raspberries! If you winterize your raspberries in the above ways, your raspberries will remain in the best shape, even in winter’s cold temperatures.