Machinery and Equipment Guide

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Machinery and equipment required for raspberry production will vary by a grower’s preferred production method and operation size. The following discussion shares basic machinery and equipment needs for raspberry production. Depending on a grower’s operation size, expertise and previous machinery investments, the grower must determine whether to purchase and operate the equipment, engage a custom service provider or possibly rent and operate the necessary equipment.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

Sites should lack a hardpan, so a subsoiler can loosen soil at 18- to 36-inch depths to improve water infiltration and support root development. Field preparation may also require a moldboard plow, disk and harrow. Because a planting site should lack weed pressure, consider control methods such as spraying an approved herbicide and using cultivation. Preparation operations typically begin a season before planting if a raspberry planting site had grown sod. In the fall before planting, producers often apply lime, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium as needed. A fertilizer spreader can be used.

To plant tissue-cultured plugs, mechanical options include a vegetable transplanter or tobacco transplanter. Planting by hand is another option. If planting bare-root plants or tissue-cultured plants that have matured, then planting practices are similar to those for other perennial transplants. Between rows, operators can seed grass in order to minimize weed pressure. If a producer chooses raspberry cultivars that require training on a trellis, then a post driver would help with building the trellis.

In an established raspberry planting with grass growing between the rows to minimize weed pressure and soil erosion, operators will need to mow between rows. When mowing row middles, grass clippings should measure only 1 inch per cutting.

Irrigation is important for raspberry production because the plants have shallow root systems. Drip irrigation systems work well given that they efficiently use water and minimize contact between irrigation water and the plant. With a drip system, producers also have an alternate method to apply nutrients through fertigation post-planting. Fertigation requires specialized nutrient injection equipment. Overhead irrigation systems are another option, though they may enhance the disease risk as they expose leaves, flowers and fruit to irrigation water. Operating an overhead irrigation system may also offer frost protection and evaporative cooling benefits.

Maintaining a raspberry planting requires activities focused on weed, disease and pest control and fertility management. Established raspberry plantings may require a sprayer to apply crop protection chemicals such as herbicides, fungicides and insecticides in order to address weed, disease and pest pressure, respectively. A dedicated sprayer used only for herbicide applications is helpful to reduce unintended damage to raspberry plants. If using cultivation to control weeds, then monitor the cultivation equipment, and ensure that it stays at least 2 inches from canes. Equipment should also disturb no more than the top 2 inches of soil in order to avoid harming roots. Growers may apply an organic mulch, such as straw or bark chips, around plants to minimize weed pressure. Pruning is another component of maintenance, and depending on the variety grown, pruning may require hand labor or machinery operations. After canes of summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit, those canes die and must be removed by hand. Other hand pruning needs may include cutting diseased canes from plants and tipping and thinning healthy canes. Primocane-fruiting raspberries can be pruned to the ground during the dormant season using a sickle bar mower. To apply fertilizer post-planting, operations may use a spreader or sidedresser. Alternatively, a drip system may apply fertilizers along with irrigation water.

Raising raspberries in a high tunnel may enhance the potential to produce a good raspberry crop. High tunnel production may require growers to adjust machinery operations, depending on the size of the high tunnel, and it requires the investment in high tunnel infrastructure and shade cloth.

Raspberry operations rely on hand labor for harvesting berries, which are delicate fruit. Only if serving a processing market may producers consider mechanical harvesting. Quickly after harvest, cool the picked berries to slow down quality deterioration. A forced-air cooling system tends to work well. If storing raspberries, then temperatures should range from 30°F to 35°F, and relative humidity levels should range from 90 percent to 95 percent. Choose a cold storage system that can provide these conditions. During transportation, berries must also stay cool.

The following table outlines basic equipment and machinery needs if an operation plants raspberry plants by hand, raises them without a trellis and harvests berries by hand.

Basic Equipment and Machinery Needs for Raspberry Production

Needed Equipment
Tractor X
Subsoiler X
Moldboard plow X
Disk X
Harrow X
Fertilizer spreader X
Sidedresser X
Sprayer X
Broadcast seeder X
Mower X
Sickle bar mower (primocane fruiting) X
Irrigation X
Forced-air cooling X
Cold storage X
Wagon or trailer X



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