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Summer berries are a staple food in the warm season with raspberries being one of the favorites for gardeners to sow, grow and harvest in the sun. While the summer-fruiting raspberry season has come and gone, the time to start picking autumn varieties is drawing increasingly closer as the hot weather continues. With little time left before harvesting homegrown raspberries, experts have urged gardeners to take a few simple steps now before picking the crop. Here’s what you need to do to grow the best berries.
According to British Berry Growers, Britons could see 65 percent more raspberries on supermarket shelves this year, with a mega crop expected in gardens and on farms across the country.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Tom Hilton, an outdoor and indoor gardening specialist at National Greenhouse said: “With berry farmers across the country having much greater yields than usual, and supermarket shelves being stacked with our favorite summer fruits, it’s safe to say that the heatwave has definitely had an impact on the industry.
“Strawberry farmers are reporting an increase of around 30 percent in yield and this week’s blackberry harvests are scheduled to be a massive 80 percent more than previous years, so now is an excellent time to be checking your raspberries to see if you can take advantage of such a tremendous summer.”
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Raspberries are expected to be bigger and sweeter this year due to the heat
When will raspberries be ready to harvest?
A high-yield crop isn’t the only thing raspberry growers should expect this year, in fact, gardeners across the nation will benefit from an earlier crop thanks to the record temperatures seen in recent weeks.
Angharad James, product manager at Phostrogen®, told Express.co.uk: “The warm weather we’ve recently experienced will have accelerated the growth and ripening of everbearing raspberries and is likely to mean that harvests will be bought forward and maybe more bountiful , so you should expect to see lots of juicy raspberries on your plants in the coming weeks.”
As the juicy pink fruits begin to ripen in your garden, timing is crucial to make sure you don’t miss the optimum harvest for each soft berry.
Raspberries will come off the plant easily when they are ripe
How to pick the best crop
The combination of the hot weather and fast-growing fruits means that it is easy to miss the mark on picking fresh berries from your garden.
Check your plant regularly
Tom said: “Checking your raspberries daily is vital in this heat. As each one ripens independently, some may be perfect for picking while others may need another day or even a week.
“Unlike other fruits, many berries (especially raspberries) do not continue to ripen when picked, so grabbing them at the perfect time is a skill to perfect.”
In the weeks leading up to your harvest, water your berries at ground level or use a drip irrigation system to prevent wastage on the leaves.
This allows the roots to get all the water they need, especially in dry conditions, although you should be careful not to overwater.
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Netting helps to protect raspberries from pests and birds
Use the fertiliser
Tom added: “Using a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content is also recommended to keep them healthy and fed, staving off conditions such as raspberry nutrient deficiency, which can ruin a whole plant if not kept in check.”
Leave firm fruits alone
Ripe raspberries should fall off the plant like meat on the bone cooked to perfection, requiring very little effort from the picker.
If the plant is reluctant to let the fruit go, Tom noted that it needs “a little more time” and should be left alone.
He added: “Like with all growing, patience and care are key. If possible, pick early morning or on a cloudy day is best, as cooler temperatures stop the raspberries from turning to mush in your hands.”
Remove overripe berries
If your plant has started to bear fruit before you realize it, always check for overripe berries.
These should be removed as soon as possible, as leaving them on the bush or around your garden will attract a variety of pests that won’t hesitate to feast on the fruits of your labor.
According to Angharad at Phostrogen, spider mites and raspberry beetles are a particular problem in the summer months.
Remove dead foliage
Robert Morley of Morley Gardens explained that overripe berries aren’t the only thing you need to remove from the plant.
He added: “Dead, dying and diseased foliage so the plant can focus its energy on producing a good crop.”
Not your raspberries
Protecting the crop is crucial if you want any fruits to pick at all.
Robert said: “Netting your Raspberry plants or using a fruit cage will help prevent the birds from indulging in your crop.”