by Dwight Bradley
Over the past three summers, we’ve had two 50-foot rows of Killarney Raspberry come into full production. Killarney is a red, summer- bearing raspberry developed in 1961 at the Morden Experiment Station in Manitoba. We chose Killarney from the North Star Gardens catalog (raspberry specialists: 91098 – 60th St., Decatur, MI 49045) because it seemed to offer the best combination of hardiness, berry quality, berry size, and yield.
In my opinion, Killarney has turned out to be only a mediocre variety for south-central Alaska. Its main advantages are the length of season and prolific growth. The berries begin to ripen in early August, and the height of the season is the last two weeks of August, but many good-sized berries continue to ripen up to the killing freeze. The berries are large but not giant. There is some minor dieback due to winterkill. Yields are impressive.
The main disadvantage of Killarney is the fairly bland flavor. At the height of the season, berries that are in full sun are quite good, but are not highly flavored. Toward the end of the season, the berries get blander and blander. One cause is that by mid-September, incredibly lush primocane growth blocks most of the sun that might reach the late berries. This could be remedied by pruning out the weakest new canes in late August. These need to go anyway, eventually, but pruning sooner rather than later might improve the late crop.
Our 50-foot row of Canby raspberries also matured this summer. Canby originated in 1953 in Corvallis, Oregon, and is notable for its thornless canes. It is truly a pleasure to pick, and to prune. The flavor is noticeably better (more intense) than the bland Killarney. The Canbys still aren’t as well established as the Killarneys, so it is too early to accurately compare yields, but I suspect that Canby will have slightly lower yields. Some of our Canby canes are now 8 feet high, in mid- September.