Will raspberries survive frost? If you are already experiencing first frosts where you live, you may be wondering whether your raspberries will still be ok. You may be wondering whether the frost will make the fruit inedible, or you may be thinking about the plants themselves and whether you need to protect them from frost.
Fear not: learning how to grow raspberries includes winter care and that includes frosts. Here's what expert growers and gardeners told us about raspberries and frost.
Will raspberries survive frost?
The good news is that generally, yes, raspberry plants will survive frosts, and any ripe fruit already on the canes should not be affected. Nikki McAteer, expert grower at Florida-based Perfect Plants Nursery, explains that 'many raspberry bush varieties are cold hardy to negative temperatures.' She especially recommends 'The Caroline Raspberry' which 'is hardy down to USDA zone 4, which can have rough winter temperatures. The canes may die back from the colder weather but the plant lives on in its roots.'
Rick VanVranken, an agriculture expert and department head at Rutgers Cooperative Extension Atlantic County, adds that raspberries 'are perennial plants and are in the process of going dormant when frosts approach.' Don't worry about berries after a light frost – they 'will likely survive.' However, berries that were left on the cane during a hard frost 'will likely be water-soaked and difficult to harvest.'
Can a hard frost damage my raspberry plants?
Nikki says that 'the only circumstance where frost would affect the plant is a late winter/early spring frost that happened while the plant was flowering. A frost could possibly kill the flowers, which in turn can cause fruit to not mature for eating.'
Rick agrees, saying that the most important thing 'is that dormancy starts before a hard frost because the blossoms for next year's production are already in the buds on the canes that will go through the winter. Too hard a cold snap too early, or a warm spell too early in the spring followed by a hard frost, may damage those fruit buds and reduce next season's harvest.'
Should I protect raspberry plants from frost?
If your raspberries are in flower and you know a frost is coming, or if the temperatures are about to drop to abnormally low levels, then yes, it may be a good idea to protect the plants from frost. Emilly Fernandes, gardening expert at House Grail, recommends doing so 'in the late afternoon so they will hold some heat throughout the night.' If you've got short canes, you can also 'cut them down close to the ground. For longer ones, you can put the ends of them in the dirt to help keep them from freezing.'
Having said that, if all that's forecast is a light frost, your raspberry plants should be absolutely fine, and raspberries harvested after a light frost will be just as delicious as those picked before the frosts arrive.
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