Homeowners anxious for spring and the sweet taste of home grown raspberries attended the University of Illinois Extension, Kankakee County Growing Raspberries program in Bourbonnais on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.  Enthusiastic participants learned all about the best practices for selecting, planting, growing and harvesting raspberries from Dr. James Theuri, Extension Educator in Small Farms/Local Foods and Holly Froning, Program Coordinator Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Raspberries and blackberries (Rubus species) belong to the bramble (rose) family, whose members have prickly shoots (canes), although some members of the blackberry species are thornless. Although raspberries are known for their sweetness, the class participants also learned that these tiny fruits have great nutritional value. 100 grams/3.5 ounces of raspberries contain no fat, no sodium, 60 g calories, 180 mg potassium, 5 g sugar, 15 g carbohydrate (8 g dietary fiber), minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium) and Vitamins A, C, D--truly a great choice for the health-conscious.

Topics in this informational workshop focused on best practices for growing raspberries in the home landscape/small scale. Participants learned all aspects of growing raspberries-- plant selection, soil preparation, correct planting, ongoing fertilization, irrigation, pruning, disease and insect issues, harvest and storage. The garden area requires proper preparation of ground to a depth of two feet, fertilized as recommended, and soil acidity (pH) amended to 5.5 to 6.0. This should be done well ahead of planting time. Seedlings should be planted properly, watered optimally (no overhead irrigation, to avoid fungal disease development). Plants should be trellised, and harvesting done in a timely manner to avoid insect pest invasion. After harvest, pruning of canes that are spent, damaged, diseased, rubbing with another, should be done. It keeps the plants vigorous, healthy and highly productive.

An unusual character of brambles is that if so desired, one can get two crops in one year – one from ever-bearing varieties from July to September (from biennial canes), and the other in mid-June from newly-developed canes. If well-managed, brambles can last at least 10 years.

If you would be interested in learning more about this topic and/or others that are provided by University of Illinois Extension call our office at 815-933-8337 or visit us online at https://go.illinois.edu/gkw