This offbeat raspberry’s worth growing
When I really want to impress a visitor to my garden, I offer a taste of Fallgold raspberries. Many raspberries taste good, especially when picked dead ripe and popped into your mouth, but Fallgold is perhaps the tenderest and sweetest raspberry around. Here is a berry that you’ll never see in a supermarket; it’s too fragile to travel much further than arm’s length.
Fallgold berries also have an unusual appearance. Their pale yellow, blushed orange color seems to speak to their sweetness and tenderness, and also probably helps hide the fruit from birds.
As its name indicates, Fallgold bears fruit in the fall. In this, it’s not unique. There are a number of so-called “fallbearing” raspberries. These varieties begin their fall crop (it actually begins in late summer) starting at the tips of new canes, with fruit continuing to ripen down the canes until stopped by freezing temperatures.
Fallbearing raspberries are sometimes called everbearing raspberries, although they actually bear only two crops each season. The first, in midsummer, is borne lower on canes that grew the previous season, the ones that started bearing near their tips the previous late summer and fall.
Knowing where and when these raspberries fruit tells you how to prune them. Easiest is just to cut the whole planting to the ground early each winter. This method sacrifices the summer crop but avoids any problems from winter cold or hungry deer. It also cuts down on the chances of disease, not that raspberries are so plagued by diseases.
However, it seems a shame to choose that easier pruning route for Fallgold. Why? Because if you let it bear two crops a season, you’re forced to suffer only a short hiatus — usually only a couple of weeks — between the end of the summer crop and the beginning of the second crop. You get berries from midsummer right into autumn.
Pruning for two crops is not all that difficult. In winter or right after the summer crop finishes, cut down to the ground every cane that bore a summer crop. You can recognize these canes because they show their age with peeling bark. In winter, go over the planting and cut to the ground enough younger canes so that those that are left are a few inches apart and grow in a swathe no wider than 12 inches. Selectively remove the thinnest ones.
With Fallgold grown for two crops each season, there’s still usually no need to worry about winter cold damage on those canes that remain. Despite its beauty, sweetness and tenderness, Fallgold is a tough plant. Don’t fret too much about deer damage either: Deer aren’t all that fond of raspberry canes, and Fallgold will compensate for any canes that are eaten with a subsequent, larger late summer and fall crop.
This Sept. 23 photo shows a Fallgold raspberry crop on a brick wall in New York City. Fallgold’s name speaks of yet another one of the plant’s qualities: It bears in the fall.