After growing predominatly summer fruiting raspberries, over the last couple of years I have purposefully sought out and grown autumn fruiting raspberries to extend the season.
I'm not sure that it is worth it. They don't taste anywhere near as good as summer fruiting raspberries in my opinion.
But they are fruiting, and I am eating them, which tells you something.
Interestingly, raspberries do have distinctly different tastes with some having a much better flavour than others. I suppose its not that much of a surprise. Think of apples, pears, plums, strawberries and many other fruits, let alone veg - all have varietal differences and everyone has their favourite!
For autumn fruiting raspberries I have the following varieties: Heritage and Autumn Bliss, as well as the dual cropping varieties Willamette, Sandford and Chilcotin.
I have written before about pruning methods, so I won't recap that here, but instead focus on the eating qualities.
The first specifically autumn fruiting raspberry I grew was Heritage.
I have always been a little disappointed with both taste and texture of this variety - I find it grows a small, dense, somewhat tasteless berry. They aren't terrible, just a vague semblance of what a good raspberry can be.
I thought it was maybe a variety thing. So I moved onto Autumn Bliss. I planted these out last year in the same area as Heritage so that I knew if there were any taste differences it would not be due to the growing area and more/less sunlight, rain, different soil, microclimate etc.
Unfortunately, as you can see, they have been pretty popular with the local birds. The few I've managed to get my hands on are better than Heritage, but still not that delicious full raspberry flavour.
Willamette is probably the best flavoured I've found, but being a dual cropper I only get a few berries at this time of year. There weren't any quite ripe for picking, this is the closest.
Sandford is the best cropper so far, producing luscious full berries.
Again, they don't have the best raspberry flavour, but they are on a par with Autumn Bliss and definitely better than Heritage.
Chilcotin is quite a good cropper. The taste is slightly better than Sandford and Autumn Bliss I think, but I don't like the way the berries fall apart when you pick them.
Here is a comparison of picked berries from what was good for picking this morning.
L to R: Sandford, Heritage and Chilcotin.
So overall, there is no real standout variety. If I had to pick one on pain of death, I'd go with Sandford.
Does anyone else have any suggestions for other contenders? And does anyone grow Australian native raspberries? I've always wondered about those...
I'm contributing this to Liz's Saturday Spotlight series.