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Mowing down fall raspberry canes

Posted by Michael Phillips 
Mowing down fall raspberry canes
November 12, 2012 07:38AM
Fall raspberries are varieties with the ability to go from primocane to bearing in a single growing season. Typically these are mown down after the harvest is complete. (Or one can do staggered pruning of these canes to induce a smaller second crop the next season from the same canes.) I've waited for my bed of Polana to go fully dormant and shed most of its leaves. But now I'm wondering if waiting till early spring to mow might be better for the root system and thus the vigor of the new canes next season. One seeming advantage here would be that the bed would better hold snow cover and thus protect from deep cold. Then again, it may not matter. Thoughts?

Lost Nation Orchard
Zone 4b in New Hampshire
Re: Mowing down fall raspberry canes
November 15, 2012 08:22PM
John Bemis sent along the latest UMass Fruit Advisor with perspective on this question. SWD refers to Spotted Wing Drosophila (aka the Japanese vinegar fly). But this is foremost about stored nutrition and spring vigor:

The second question fall red raspberry growers have
raised relates to mowing of canes now in an attempt to
reduce the overwintering SWD population, thus reducing
pest numbers for next season. Fall red raspberries have
traditionally been mowed in February or early March. All
perennial plants, including fall red raspberries, go through
a long process of physiological changes as they prepare
for winter. These steps are commonly referred to as
hardening. First, carbohydrates and nitrogen move from
the senescing leaves into the canes. Movement continues
into the crown of the plant throughout the fall and early
winter. If canes are mowed before movement is complete,
these important resources are removed and not available
to the plants the next years. Plant vigor and perhaps yields
may be reduced the next year as a result. Early mowing
may also reduce the winter hardiness of the plants crowns.
The best time to mow canes is in February or early March
(before buds begin to swell). While mowing plants now
may reduce the overwintering populations slightly, the
negative impacts of early mowing are much greater than
the benefits of a slight reduction of the overwintering
SWD population. Thus, early mowing is not considered to
be a wise management decision.
Re: Mowing down fall raspberry canes
February 25, 2013 12:16PM
I do mow my berries in early March and it seems to be working for me. I called Nourse Farm(I get me bareroot plants from them) regarding the mowing in spring and they said, before mowing it would be good to do a spray of Lime Sulfur, wait 2-3 days and then mow.
Instead of Lime sulfur I'm thinking to do an holistic spray of neem/EM/fish, does anybody have previous experience on this?
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