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How to Winterize Raspberry Plants

Raspberry plants should be winterized one to two weeks before the ground freezes, or when daytime temperatures are predicted to stay below freezing. Raspberry plants will break dormancy during the winter when daytime temperatures stay above 40 degrees F for three to five days. During this time the plant will put out new growth, which is then promptly killed by the return of colder temperatures. Covering canes and mulching the crown will prevent this.

Give your raspberry plants 1 to 2 inches of water a week throughout the fall. Stop watering when daytime temperatures stay below 40 degrees F. If the area you live in has a wet fall, you can skip this step.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket and heavy gloves when working with raspberry canes to prevent scratches and scrapes.

Wrap erect canes (canes that are not on a trellis) in two to three layers of burlap. Fold burlap over the top of the canes and secure it with twine.

Remove trellised raspberry canes from their supports. Lay the canes gently on the ground and cover them with 3 to 4 inches of straw.

Cover the crown (the area just above the roots where the canes emerge) with 3 to 4 inches of straw.

Winterize Raspberry Plants

Continue watering the raspberries long after the plants have stopped producing fruit, and don't hold off on watering until the first frost. This extended watering prevents over-drying during the winter and also helps harden the plants and prepare them for the cold. When pruning the canes, cut them down to the soil level. Bury the remaining raspberry canes if these are new plants that haven't experienced winter yet, as these plants are extra-sensitive to winter's chills. Use traditional 1/4-inch mesh wire, which you can buy at garden stores and nurseries.

Tip

You can substitute 4 to 5 inches of fallen leaves for straw.

In areas with winter temperatures that stay above freezing, just cover the raspberry plant's crown with straw.

Uncover the crown and reattach canes to trellises in early spring before signs of growth but after all threat of heavy frost has passed.

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