Madawaska Raspberry - Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
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The Madawaska raspberry bramble is very hardy, growing in zone 3 with no problem. It forms long canes with few spines, making for easy harvesting, and is also very productive, with good suckering. Suckering implies that the raspberries will quickly fill the row in which they are planted. It is somewhat sensitive to powdery mildew, but it has no known sensitivity to any other disease.
Madawaska was developed in Ottawa, Ontario, by the Canadian Department of Agriculture Research Station. It originates from a cross between the varieties ‘Lloyd George’ and ‘Newman’. It was selected in 1931, then known as Ottawa 272. After more than a decade of testing, it was finally introduced to the public in 1943 as ‘Madawaska’ named after the Madawaska first nation.
The raspberry bramble is a perennial, so its roots survive during the winter and continue to grow and spread constantly. However, the raspberry bramble only has a life span of two years. So, how does this work? The first year, the roots produce a new stem which will grow without producing fruit for the whole summer. The second year, this same stem will produce fruit in July and August. After producing the fruit, this stem will become dry and woody, and will die. At the end of fall, this dry stem can be cut at ground level.
The raspberry bramble (stem) has a life span of only two years; however, as the roots are perennial, they will continue to produce many stems which will continue to fill the row of plants.
When you plant a raspberry bramble, many factors can contribute to causing the stem to die. This is not really a problem, as what is important here is not the stem, but the roots. Wait a few weeks, and take a close look at the base of the dead stem to ascertain whether a new stem is emerging from the ground. If so, everything is under control, and you will have raspberries next year.
We suggest planting in a row with 2ft in between each plant. Planted at this distance, the raspberry brambles will fill the row in about three years. If you desire your raspberry plants to fill the row in less than 3 years, plant them at a distance of less than 2ft apart. If you want the raspberry plants to take more than 3 years to fill the row, plant them at a distance of greater than 2ft apart.
The roots of the raspberry plants are e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y sensitive to drying out during plantation. As with all the plants we sell, the raspberry plants are sold bare-rooted. This means that when you receive them, they are not in pots but are packed in earth and wrapped in thick plastic. When you open the package, the roots will be exposed to air and sun and will start to dry out. The roots can dry out and die in less than 30 seconds!
How do you plant without drying the roots? It’s simple. Dig your holes before you open the package; situate yourself beside the first hole, take out one raspberry plant at a time, close the package again immediately, and bury the roots of the raspberry plant without delay. Continue this way with the other holes. The important step is to close the package immediately after taking each plant out.
Alternatively, you can also open the package and place all the raspberry plants in a bucket of water, and go from hole to hole with the bucket, planting each raspberry plant as soon as it is taken out of the bucket. Warning! Ensure that there is enough water in the bucket to cover the entire root system of the plants.
Once all the raspberry brambles are planted, water them abundantly. Planted this way, you should have a 100% success rate.
Once fall has arrived, you can cut off all stems that produced fruit during the year. These stems are easily recognisable as they will be dry and woody. The dry stems can be cut at ground level using pruning shears. This is not mandatory, but is more like a clean up and it will ensure next year’s harvest is abundant.
In regards to overly tall 1 year old stems that have not yet produced fruit – it is possible to trim these to a height of 3 feet high (1m).
If you have good snow cover in your area (more than 2 feet of snow), it is best to tie the stems together to avoid breakage under the weight of the snow. This task is very easy. You only have to group stems that are close to each other. You should create enough tension to create resistance, but not enough to break the stems. This way, the force that unifies them will make them stronger. Some breakage may still occur, most likely in a big snow storm with a heavy snow, but grouping the stems together will reduce the amount of damage. Note that it is not necessary to perform this task for the first winter if you are planting in fall.
All our raspberry canes are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 1-3-foot raspberry cane, just like one that you might receive. Depending on our availability at the time of order preparation, it might be slightly taller, (closer to 3 feet) or somewhat smaller (closer to 1 foot in height).