My Autumn-fruiting Raspberries are pumping out the fruit as usual this year, which is all very nice. But next year I might do something a little different.
Autumn Raspberries are described as ‘primocane’ because they fruit on this season’s wood. Usually, I cut the canes down to the ground in Feb and the new season’s growth will flower and produce fruit around about September the same year. I’ve been doing this for years and thought that was the only way to do it. Until…
I came across a technique called double-cropping (sounds like my kind of cropping!). So I investigated further. What happens is this:
Instead of cutting your Autumn Raspberries to the ground in February you leave the canes to grow into Spring and Summer. At some point the existing canes will flower and give you a crop. At which point you slice them down to the ground and leave the newer, greener, springier canes to crop at the usual time. Sounds crazy but it just might work.
I noticed that Which? Gardening have also done a trial to compare how many kg of fruit you can get from the same canes by cropping normally and double cropping. The results are very interesting.
Most Autumn varieties tested produced significantly more fruit when double cropped. Only one variety, Brice, produced less. Here are the results:
Conventional – 5.75kg
Double – 6.5kg
Conventional – 3.5kg
Double – 8.0kg
Conventional – 4.75kg
Double – 5.25kg
Conventional – 2.0kg
Double – 7.75kg
Conventional – 3.75kg
Double – 3.5kg
Conventional – 3.5kg
Double – 6.5kg
Conventional – 2.5kg
Double – 5.75kg
Clearly it depends which variety you have. But as I have Autumn Bliss I think I will be giving double cropping a go.
A far simpler method which I’ve used successfully for a couple of years now with my Autumn Bliss is to leave one or two of this year’s canes per “clump” which then fruit from around June.
Gardening Which fails to mention that double-cropping requires a lot of support for the canes so wires and posts if you go down that route!
Thanks for this – i’ve inherited Autumn fruiting raspberries with my half allotment and might try leaving a few canes to fruit early next year as Mark does. I love the fact that they are so easy. I don’t know which variety I’ve got but they’re doing well.
l’ve also been growing Autumn Bliss for some years, so will definitely give this a try next near too, but will heed Mark’s advice and maybe just try some of the canes for the first go. Just ordered some Polka canes to try out this year too, and interesting to see that double cropping didn’t increase the yields that much with this variety. Do you think double cropping could weaken the plant at all? Thanks for this post, really got me thinking-more raspberries can only be a good thing!
I’m just a veggie grower initiate so have NO idea how to grow raspberries either way but just wanted to tell you (again) how inspirational your blog is. whenever I get down about how rough my seedlings are looking, I spend a quiet half an hour on your pages and feel like I could feed an entire third world country with what I’m going grow!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Here endeth the thanks. lol
Hey there, we’ve done this with autumn bliss for many years and it works a treat, grandad taught us, excellent info on the other varieties brilliant ta!
Another chum also uses the cut back canes for cuttings to increase her crop canes, seems to work for her.
Love your blog, sorry don’t normally comment, read at work generally, during lunch.
What a useful tip. Thanks. Rob
Aha! I think you just solved my mystery! I inherited a row of raspberry canes on my (now not so) new allotment last October. I got some fruit in early summer, but HEAPS of berries at the end of August & still going.
I assumed I had two different types in, & was wondering how I was going to to tell which was which for pruning. They clearly haven’t been tended in a long time – loads of dead wood in there – and I’ve just let them be so far, while I get on with clearing other areas.
So maybe it’s just one Autumn fruiting variety that’s been accidently left to double-crop?! Brilliant! I’ll leave the newer canes again for next year and see what happens.
Thank you! (Great blog. I too read in my lunch hour – so many office workers dreaming of the outdoors over their sandwiches!)
Im with Mark. Ive done this with Autumn Bliss, leave a few canes for next year. Double cropping might overtax the plant and am guessing that a bigger shovel full of manure would need to go on. Otherwise good thinking and happy experimentation.
Hi, ive been doing this for the last 10 years and always get 2 nice crops, the autumn one being the more abundant.
Great to see that people are so keen to give this a go. It was a really interesting trial and we felt the results showed double cropping to be an excellent technique for getting the most from your autumn raspberry plants.
To clear up a couple of queries that have come up in the comments, we took advice from professional raspberry growers who told us that double cropping doesn’t affect the vigour of the plants even over the longer term. As long as they’re fed as usual, they can apparently cope very well with being double cropped.
Talking of their vigour, this brings me on to the other point – supporting your plants. Generally autumn raspberries are less unruly than their summer fruiting cousins and with their simpler pruning (even if double cropping) shouldn’t need any support. They can spread, but this can be controlled by taking out new canes that appear outside the area you want them in. We didn’t support our plants in the trial and didn’t experience any problems.
Happy raspberry eating!
Thanks for sharing this, I love berries!