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Organic Raspberry and Blackberry Variety Trials

Five varieties of red rapsberries, two varieties of yellow raspberries, and two varieties of blackberries have been planted on certified organic land at the Horticulture Research Center northeast of Fort Collins, Colorado. The variety trial was established in 2004. The bare root stock raspberry plants were planted on June 11, 2004, 24″ apart, one inch deeper than the nursery planted level, and the bare root stock blackberry plants were planted on June 14, 2004, 4′ apart, to the same depth as the nursery planted level. We rented a tractor-mounted post hole digger to excavate the holes more efficiently. Composted dairy manure was mixed in with the soil when re-filling the holes.

Varieties were chosen based on hardiness, productivity, and early harvests. All raspberries being grown are fall bearing due to the ease of care (winter covering not needed, no pruning needed, can mow plants down in fall/early spring), and the ability to have some berry production in the first year. Yellow raspberries don’t keep well and are best eaten fresh, so they are good for a U-pick type operation. Unfortunately we had high mortality in our raspberries and blackberries in 2004, so consequently many varieties were replanted in 2005. Of the varieties that made it through the first growing season in 2004, we had 28% mortality over the winter. We hope to have our first year of significant berry production in 2006. See below for descriptions of the berry varieties planted.

Red Raspberries
Autumn Bliss
Hardy and productive, early producer, large, flavorful fruit
Did outstanding in trials in New Mexico and Minnesota
Widely adapted, a classic but sometimes a poor producer
Produces 3 weeks earlier than Heritage, short plants
Red Wing
Heritage x Fall Red cross, developed in Minnesota, matures earlier than Heritage
Yellow Raspberries
Fall Gold
Very hardy variety, from New Hampshire
Kiwi Gold
Ripening and yields similar to Heritage
Thornless Blackberries
Late season ripening, resistant to cane blight, high quality fruit
Triple Crown
Late season but may be earlier than Chester, high quality fruit
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