The Advantages of Growing Autumn Raspberries

, written by Ann Marie Hendry gb flag

Autumn raspberries

Autumn raspberries are so rewarding to grow. Like strawberries and peas they offer the delight of fresh eating, straight from the garden – instant gratification compared to having to prepare or cook most other produce.

And what an experience picking and eating those sumptuous berries is! Gently pinching the fruit away from its central plug, cupping the bright jewel in your palm to admire it (and check for damage and insect hitchhikers), popping it in your mouth and letting it release its sweet, tangy juices as it melts on your tongue. And then picking another – and another – and another, until your fingers and chin are sticky and smeared with pink! Or is that just me?

The Perfect Climate for Growing Raspberries

Gardeners growing in a cool, maritime climate may struggle to grow bumper crops of aubergines and melons but, take heart, you’ll undoubtedly be able to produce some cracking rasps. Scotland is very much the soft fruit garden of the UK, so if your climate is similar to Scotland’s – damp, chilly in winter and not overly blessed with high summer temperatures – you’re in a prime position to grow ravishing raspberries.

Autumn raspberry

Hot climates won’t do autumn raspberry plants many favours, as they need a good cold winter to produce plenty of leaf growth and lots of bee-pleasing flowers (and thus fruits). Raspberries will take the worst of what the winter has to throw at them and come back raring to go in the spring.

Despite being most comfortable in cooler conditions, autumn raspberries love the sun and will produce their best crops, and ripen most quickly, if they can bask in a bright spot. They are tolerant of shade, however, and in hotter regions shade may even prove beneficial.

Soil Requirements for Autumn Raspberries

Poor, dry soils don’t please many plants, and raspberries are no exception. The archetypal moist yet well-drained, rich soil will keep them happy, especially if the pH tends towards being slightly acidic.

Raspberries are suckering plants from the woodland edge which naturally ‘walk’ as the forest expands to seek out fresh stores of nutrients. This means that those grown in one place within a garden can soon exhaust the nutrients found in the soil, which can result in viruses and other diseases taking hold. To replenish these nutrients it’s a good idea to mulch around raspberries with a rich organic mulch such as well-rotted compost at least once a year.

Leafmould, shredded bark, wood chippings or well-rotted sawdust will also help to improve soil conditions, but they won’t provide the same amount of nutrients as compost. If you’re using any of these as mulch it will be worth also adding a top-dressing of an organic fertiliser, such as poultry manure pellets, seaweed or bonemeal in spring.

Autumn raspberries supported with a single string line

Mulching also helps to keep moisture in and reduces the need to weed. Hoeing can easily damage raspberry roots, which run close to the surface, so mulch generously and hoe with care.

The Benefits of an Autumn Harvest of Raspberries

I favour autumn-fruiting raspberries over summer fruiters for two main reasons. The first reason is the perfect timing of that luscious harvest. Autumn raspberries fruit from late summer right through to the first frosts, so when I’m struggling to keep up with the harvesting demands of ripe red strawberries before the slugs get them, I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to do with a glut of raspberries too!

Summer fruiting raspberries crop heavily for a short period, while autumn rasps crop more steadily over a longer period, so unmanageable gluts aren’t such an issue.

Picking an autumn raspberry

Growing raspberries that fruit in autumn almost completely side-steps the unpleasant issue of raspberry maggots. True, the very earliest fruits may be preyed upon, but the larvae of the raspberry beetle have long since moved on by the time those delicious autumn rasps are in full fruit.

Pruning and Training Autumn Raspberries

The second reason I love autumn rasps is the pure simplicity of care they need compared to summer varieties.

Summer fruiting raspberries, known as ‘floricane’ varieties, fruit on last year’s wood. This means that the old canes need to be cut out every year, while the new green canes are left in place to produce next season’s fruit. Trust me – it’s very, very easy to accidentally snip out the new canes by accident!

Pruning autumn raspberries

Autumn fruiting raspberries by contrast are ‘primocanes’, meaning they fruit on new wood. Pruning involves cutting down all canes after harvest ends in late autumn, but before new growth begins in spring. And that’s it!

With both types you’ll need to remove any suckers that are growing away from the main row, and thin canes out in spring, but training autumn raspberries is simple. While summer fruiting raspberries require a sturdy system of posts and tiers of wires to control those long, arching canes, autumn raspberries are largely self-supporting. A single wire or length of strong string between posts is enough to keep them from leaning over pathways.

And if you want the best of both worlds, you can even double-crop your autumn raspberries. The idea here is that you cut out fruited canes and leave the newer, greener canes to produce an earlier crop next year. This will help to spread out the harvest and, in most cases, increase overall yields. I plan to try this method next year, so if you’ve tried double-cropping your autumn raspberries please leave us a comment below and let us know how you got on!

< All Guides

Garden Planning Apps

If you need help designing your vegetable garden, try our Vegetable Garden Planner (for PC & Mac) or if you'd prefer an app for your mobile or tablet device, our iPad & iPhone app Garden Plan Pro is available on the App Store here.
Garden Planning Apps and Software

Vegetable Garden Pest Warnings

Want to Receive Alerts When Pests are Heading Your Way?

If you've seen any pests or beneficial insects in your garden in the past few days please report them to The Big Bug Hunt and help create a warning system to alert you when bugs are heading your way.

Show Comments


"So are summer raspberries or fall raspberries depend how and when the canes are pruned. I can have fall raspberries i prune all canes and summer fruiting if I prune the vine that has fruited?"
Marie Prudhomme on Saturday 10 September 2016
"Not exactly. Summer fruiting varieties will only produce fruit on two year old wood, so if you cut out all canes you won't get any fruit until the second year. Autumn fruiting varieties however produce fruit on new wood; leaving the new canes over winter simply gives them a head start, so they fruit a few weeks earlier than normal."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 13 September 2016
"What varieties give fall raspberries? "
Marie on Tuesday 13 September 2016
"There are lots of autumn-bearing varieties of raspberries - they should be marked as such in any plant catalogue, and may even be listed separately from summer-bearing varieties. Here in the UK varieties such as Polka, Joan J, Autumn Bliss and Allgold (sometimes listed as Fallgold) are popular, but there are loads more and the varieties available in your region may differ."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 14 September 2016
"Of the Autumn varieties grown in my garden near Preston in Lancashire, Polka is first to fruit but doesn't crop for as long as Autumn Bliss but is the best tasting. I usually get Autumn Bliss from Mid July to late October (I am still picking this week). Joan J crops the latest but the fruits are the largest and the canes completely thornless which is a real bonus. Autumn Bliss has best resistance to brown root rot (some of my canes are 15 years old)"
John Smith on Monday 24 October 2016
"Hi John, sounds like you've good a good selection of rasps there. I love Polka too - it produces huge berries that are really sweet! I'm still harvesting them in my Scottish garden right now. Last year I think I was picking them until mid-November. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 25 October 2016
"I inherited a small crop of everbearing raspberries when I bought my house. I get a fairly good crop in July and then I get a very heavy and long lasting yield in late August right through to frost. I have pics of raspberries covered in a light dusting of snow. The new green canes produce in fall. I leave these and they produce again the following July. at the end of the season or in early spring I cut them down. So each cane spends two years in the garden, one year producing the first year in fall and then again the next July. I find it very easy to tell which ones to thin out as they turn a very light brown and become woody, as opposed to the first year green canes (fall yield) and the second year reddish ones (summer yield). I live in Canada, in a zone 4 area. Can't recommend overbearing raspberries highly enough, especially if you love raspberry liqueur! Unfortunately whoever planted them did not leave any info as to the exact name of these particular ones but I would think any overbearing variety would be as prolific..."
Valerie Wall on Friday 21 April 2017
"Great to know you've had success with the double-cropping method Valerie. You can never have enough raspberries!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 21 April 2017
"And by overbearing I mean overbearing, Ha!"
Valerie on Friday 21 April 2017
"Arghhhhh, just realized my computer is changing it. Everbearing..."
Valerie on Friday 21 April 2017
"The joys of technology eh..."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 22 April 2017
"I have just taken on my first allotment - I've never grown fruit before and have no idea what I'm doing! I have inherited some raspberries. I don't know which variety they are or whether they're autumn or summer fruiting. I can only go on what they look like now in May and they are just developing buds (I live in the Peak District so we're often a few weeks behind a lot of other places). Does it sound as if they're autumn fruiters? I've been to the allotment this evening and cut out a lot of definitely dead stuff, as well as snipping the dead-looking (shrivelled and brittle) tops off some of the live canes - these might have fallen victim to our late frosts."
Sarah Crooks on Monday 8 May 2017
"Hi Sarah, if they're flowering now they're likely to be summer fruiting raspberries. The dead-looking tops may be the remnants of last year's crop, in which case the whole cane can be cut out."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 11 May 2017
"I have a quick question regarding raspberries. My cousin had a bunch of raspberry shoots that made their way into his yard from the neighbor so when he told me that he keeps ripping them out to keep them contained (except for one plant that he lets grow)I went over to his place and got myself three plants. (not sure what type they are) I swear when I got them they had thorns on them, but now that I transplanted them in my garden they are getting quite tall (4 feet or so)but new growth has absolutely no thorns on them. Is that possible or can it take a year or two for them to reappear? I am not complaining but I want to know if something is wrong with them and if I am wasting my time with them. This is their second year in my garden and they still haven't produced. I had to relocate them to another part of my garden last summer which shocked them quite a bit and even though they survived they essentially had to regrow all the canes as all that was left after this past winter was a 3 inch stem lol. They grew about 4 feet between March of this year till now (July) The plant I took them from in his yard produces nice red raspberries and barely ever sees any sun which is what excites me as it has to be one hardy type of raspberry."
Mark on Sunday 2 July 2017
"If I double-crop my autumn raspberries, does this increase the risk of pests? And if so, does this have any impact upon the health of the plant or just mean I have to be more careful to avoid eating maggots in the berries I pick in the early part of the season? And do I need to change how and when I apply compost/top dressing/mulch to the plant?"
Graham on Thursday 12 October 2017
"Hi Mark, sorry for the very tardy reply! I wouldn't worry about the lack of thorns, as some varieties are bred to be less thorny - unless you're not entirely sure that you dug up the right plant! It might be worth going back to the garden you got them from to compare. Raspberries will fruit in partial shade, so that shouldn't be a problem (although they do better in full sun). Summer fruiting raspberries only fruit in their second year, so if they're a summer fruiting variety then you'll need to let them grow this year and hopefully next year you should get some fruit. Once they've finished cropping for the year, cut out all the canes that have fruited and leave the newer, younger canes to fruit the following year."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 12 October 2017
"Hi Graham, double-cropping shouldn't affect the health of the plant. Cutting out all canes each year is really just for simplicity of maintenance - letting young canes grow is actually allowing the plants to behave more naturally. Annual mulching should be sufficient, though if you experience dry summers you could top up the mulch after watering to help reduce evaporation. Maggots are rarely a problem on autumn-fruiting rasps as they fruit too late for the raspberry beetle to lay its eggs, but yes, you will need to check fruits for damage and maggots if you've got fruits appearing during summer."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 12 October 2017
"Hi just to add a comment on my Autumn fruit raspberries, they have been in for about 4 years and with out fail fruit almost continually between June and mid to late November. From 6 canes I'm getting still a good handful eg about 15 fruits every day. The only quite period is circa August. Each year I cut down fully to about 6" above the ground. Now propagating a few more plants from the side shoots which should be fruiting next year. I'm Midlands based with the plants in a sheltered light spot. Mulched each year with bark chips and a little new home made compost. These of all our fruits are the most cherished it's great picking fresh raspberries for topping on breakfast cereal for the family every day so late in the season when all other fruits are dormant."
Steve Thorndale on Sunday 5 November 2017
"Sounds like you're enjoying a very successful crop Steve. I agree, raspberries make the perfect topper for breakfast cereal. Mine have just finished producing now and I'm already missing them!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 9 November 2017
"I planted autumn raspberries last autumn and they are still producing today. My summer raspberries had to be protected from pigeons and squirrels. Seems they are not interested in Polka."
Phil on Wednesday 15 November 2017
"I also found that the raspberries (mainly Polka) which protruded out of my fruit cage were untouched by birds. They must turn to a more appealing food source at this time of year, although it's hard to imagine what could be better than a big juicy raspberry!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 21 November 2017
"I have inherited a autumn fruiting variety that produced fruit on canes last autumn. I am attempting to double crop so I have left those canes over winter. They have now turned brown and are starting to produce leaf buds. If i have understood your method correctly I leave these canes and they will fruit in June /July and then again in the Autumn? Or do I need to cut these canes out and wait for new ones to appear from the base of the raspberry plant?"
matt grimes on Sunday 18 February 2018

Add a Comment

Add your own thoughts on the subject of this article:
(If you have difficulty using this form, please use our Contact Form to send us your comment, along with the title of this article.)

(We won't display this on the website or use it for marketing)


(Please enter the code above to help prevent spam on this article)

By clicking 'Add Comment' you agree to our Terms and Conditions