Getting Raspberries Ready for Winter and Unusual Lady Bugs

Orange Lady BugQuestion: I had a great crop of raspberries this year. What should I do with the plants and maybe the soil to get them ready for winter and a great crop again next year?

Answer: Raspberries are sensitive to alkaline soil conditions. New growth becomes yellow with dark green veins which indicates a shortage of iron. The iron in the soil has become unavailable due to the alkaline soil and water. This is an excellent time to apply sulfur or sulfur and iron compounds to the soil to reduce alkalinity. I apply sulfur every year to raspberries, even when I don’t have yellow leaves. Apply about one pound of sulfur per 10 feet of row. Scratch it into the soil with a hoe or cultivator. I also apply sulfur every year to other alkaline sensitive plants. My lawn and other plants get sulfur once every 3 years.

The old raspberry canes which bore fruit this summer can be pruned off right at the ground any time from now until spring when new growth starts. Some gardeners like to wait until spring to make sure they are not removing canes which will produce fruit next year. It’s easy to tell first-year canes from second-year canes. First-year canes have green stems, while second-year canes have a thin, brown bark covering them. The old canes become brittle and will not produce new leaves next spring.

The everbearing varieties produce a second crop of fruit on the new growth which should be starting to ripen now. Evergreen raspberries will produce another crop of fruit on this year’s new growth next year. Most raspberries in our area are the standard type. You can extend your raspberry harvest by planting one of the earlier everbearing varieties which bear fruit both earlier and later than the standard single crop varieties. Caroline is the best adapted everbearing variety for eastern Idaho. Other everbearing varieties are Fall Red, Autumn Bliss and August Red.

Orange Lady BugQuestion: My daughter asked me about the small beetles in the garden which look like “lady bugs”, but are more of an orange color, rather than the usual red color of lady bugs. Are they lady bugs or a pest type of beetle?

Answer: There are several different species of lady bugs which are all beneficial. They vary in color and also the number of spots on their back. Destructive beetles eat leaves. You would notice chewed damage to leaves if they are present. The Mexican bean beetle looks a little like lady bugs, especially in its pre-adult stage. You would definitely notice the damage if you have them.

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