Home Gardens: Red Raspberry Variety Selection

Selecting appropriate varieties might be the most important decision a gardener makes, and certainly is a difficult one to change once the plants are established.
Home Gardens: Red Raspberry Variety Selection - Articles


Descriptions of individual varieties follow, with further information given in Table 7.1 .

Red Raspberries (summer bearing)

In Pennsylvania, summer-bearing red raspberries bloom from late May to early June and ripen in July.


Very winter hardy and productive. Berries are dark red and small to medium sized. Plants are short.


A mid-season berry that is moderately winter hardy and nearly thornless. It is productive, with attractive medium to large fruit.


An old variety that's been around for over 50 years. Killarney is very winter hardy. Fruit is medium sized with excellent flavor.


A mid-season berry with excellent cold-hardiness. Although the plant is susceptible to mildew, it tolerates viruses fairly well. Fruit size is small to medium, flavor is acceptable, firmness is good; it has a relatively long bearing season. An old standard eastern variety.


Bright-red, firm fruit with good flavor but average size. Plants are vigorous, high yielding, and winter hardy. Resistant to cane diseases and late leaf rust.


A very early berry with good cold-hardiness and vigor. Fruit is soft but excellent for home garden use. Flavor is good, size is intermediate, and productivity is fair. Very cold hardy.


A late-season berry with medium fruit size, very good flavor, and moderate winter-hardiness. Very susceptible to mosaic, fungal diseases, and twospotted spider mites.


A productive variety with mildly flavored, very large cone-shaped berries. The plants have excellent vigor, but poor to moderate winter-hardiness. The fruits are soft, and some growers feel the appearance is too "rough." Titan is particularly susceptible to phytophthora root rot but resistant to the raspberry aphid, which spreads some viruses.

Red Raspberries (primocane bearing)

Primocane-bearing red raspberries bloom in early August and produce fruit from mid-August through the first heavy frost or freeze.

Autumn Bliss

Extremely high yielding and vigorous. Canes have a large diameter and are of medium height; they tend to sucker in clumps around original plants. Ripens about 2 weeks earlier than Heritage, although overall productivity is similar in most years. Might be useful in the northern tier of Pennsylvania.

Autumn Britten

Large uniform fruit with excellent flavor. Cane density is lower than average, so plants should be planted slightly closer together than usual (18 to 20 inches between plants).


High-yielding plants due to the production of many suckers. Yields 1 to 2 weeks earlier than Heritage. Fruit is dark red and conical and has excellent flavor.


Flavorful, firm, rounded fruit. More susceptible to damage from leafhoppers than other varieties.


A medium-sized, firm fruit of excellent quality. Season begins in mid- to late August in Pennsylvania and continues through severe frost or freeze. Fruit tolerates light frosts well. Plants are very vigorous and sucker well. This is the most widely planted red raspberry variety in Pennsylvania; it continues to be the standard among primocane-fruiting types.

Yellow Raspberries (primocane bearing)

Primocane-bearing yellow raspberries have very similar characteristics, except for their golden color, to primocane-bearing red raspberries.


Yields late in season. Cane density is sparse, so closer spacings (16 to 18 inches) within the row should be used. Flavor is wonderful and unique.


Fruit is soft and may develop a reddish blush. Flavor is excellent. Ripens with Heritage and is moderately winter hardy.


Fruit color is gold to apricot. A sport of Heritage, so plant and fruit characteristics, except for fruit color, are similar. Very susceptible to sunscald.


Also a sport of Heritage, so many characteristics, except for fruit color, are similar.

Black Raspberries

Black raspberries bloom in May and ripen in late June through early July. They generally fruit earlier than red raspberries, but there is very little difference among the ripening periods of black raspberry varieties.


Fruit size comparable to Jewel; large and attractive, growing on vigorous, productive plants. Flavor is mild, hardiness intermediate.


Most widely grown black raspberry in Pennsylvania. High yielding and early, with medium-sized fruit of excellent flavor. Susceptible to anthracnose, but tolerant of powdery mildew.


Very difficult to distinguish from Bristol.


A particularly vigorous productive plant with excellent cold-hardiness. Fruit is larger than that of Bristol. Fruit is more susceptible to Botrytis development after harvest.


A mid-season variety with firm, average-sized fruit. Resistant to many fungal diseases.

Purple Raspberries

Purple raspberries bloom in June and are ready for harvest in July. Plants generally begin fruiting 2 to 3 weeks after red raspberries begin.


A round, tart, reddish fruit. Very vigorous with good winter hardiness and fruit firmness. The plant will not spread because suckers grow only from the crown.


A cone-shaped fruit that is sweeter than Brandywine. Fruit is too soft for shipping, although it can be picked slightly before it is ripe for this purpose. It suckers freely from roots, so it grows more like a red raspberry in hedgerows. It is resistant to raspberry aphid, which spreads some viruses, but is especially susceptible to crown gall.

Thornless Blackberries

Thornless blackberries can be grown in warmer areas of Pennsylvania. Some varieties are trailing and will need a trellis for support. The following varieties are recommended


A new variety with improved size and yields over Arapaho and Navaho. Winter-hardiness is still a concern.


The earliest thornless blackberry. Medium-sized fruit with small seeds. Fairly erect in growth habit.


Ripens relatively late in the season. One of the most commonly grown thornless blackberries, in part due to good-quality fruit. Has a trailing growth habit.

Thorny Blackberries

Thorny blackberries are not widely grown, but they offer potential for small diversified farms with niche markets. The thorns are a significant impediment to culture and harvest.


Large fruit and improved firmness over most other varieties. Produces fruit late in the season. Untested in Pennsylvania. Winter-hardiness may be a concern.


Very productive and early fruiting, producing large fruit with small seeds. Again, hardiness is questionable since the variety has not been grown extensively in the state. Currently being tested in Pennsylvania.


An early, very erect plant that bears medium-sized, firm fruit with good flavor. Plants are vigorous and very winter hardy.


Hardy A very vigorous and hardy variety. Berries are of medium size with good flavor.


Produces very large fruit, and bears over a long harvest season.


A very productive plant that bears late, extremely large, sweet fruit. Resistant to orange rust. Hardiness purported to reach -10°F, but variety has not been planted widely in Pennsylvania.

Primocane-bearing Blackberries

These blackberries may make cultivated blackberry production possible in regions of the state where it is too cold for floricane-bearing varieties to produce a crop.


Fruit is medium sized, and flavor may be a bit tart. Use in processed products such as jellies may be the best use of the fruit.


Plants are extremely thorny. Similar to Prime-Jan. Pennsylvania trials of both Prime-Jim and Prime-Jan are underway.


Relatively late fruiting. Fruit is medium sized and has good flavor. Growth habit is erect.


A very recent release. Has produced large fruit and high yields in other areas of the country but is untested in Pennsylvania.

Triple Crown

Very productive. Fruit is large and sweeter than other thornless blackberry varieties. Growth habit is intermediate between erect and trailing types.