Raspberries, part of the rose family, have been grown throughout the ages as a valuable food source and for medicinal purposes. Asia may have been the birthplace of the highly perishable fruit, which then spread across Europe. English growers popularized the berries by the 1600s and brought cultivars to America, though the fruit was already growing in North America.
Although many states grow raspberries, most U.S. commercial production comes from growers adjacent to the Pacific coastline. California, Washington, and Oregon contribute the lion’s share of both fresh and processing volume. California dominates production in red and black varieties for the fresh market; Washington tops production for red raspberries destined for freezing or processing.
British Columbia is a significant producer of raspberries for Canada; the True North is also the top export destination for U.S. fresh raspberry shipments. Imported raspberries, to augment U.S. supply, come principally from Mexico. Raspberries are also widely cultivated in Russia and throughout Europe.
References: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, California State Polytechnic University, Cornell University, PennState Extension.
TYPES, VARIETIES & CUTS
Raspberries are primarily available in red and black varieties, though purple (a cross between red and black varieties) and yellow (a mutation of red cultivars) can be found as well. One of the earliest varieties was Latham; subsequent cultivars were Meeker and Willamette, followed by many others as well as hybrids including Tulameen, Heritage, Algonquin, Allen, Brandywine, Bristol, Coho, Caroline, Cowichan, Killarney, Kiwigold, Malahat, Saanich, Summit, and Titan.
Brambles (raspberries and blackberries) are grown as either fall-bearing (primocane) or summer-bearing (floricane) varieties. Fallbearing plants are able to produce berries in their first year; summer-bearing do not bear fruit until their second year of growth.
Increased use of high tunnels is now prolonging the season and harvest window for raspberry production in some regions.
References: Natural Resource, Agriculture & Engineering Service Cooperative Extension, Oregon State University, PennState Extension, Washington Red Raspberry Commission.