This off­beat rasp­berry’s worth grow­ing

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NEWS - LEE RE­ICH

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.

AP PHOTO/LEE RE­ICH

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.

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