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Plant Manual for Black Hawk Raspberry

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Plant Description

This improved black raspberry is extra-hardy and gives you big crops of big, juicy, sweet berries despite a lot of hot, dry weather. Berries from these super-vigorous plants don’t crumble. Ripens mid-July in Zone 6.


Plants grown in a greenhouse must be acclimated carefully before planting or placing them outdoors. This is especially true in hot or sunny locations. Many species should never be grown in full sun. Before purchasing a plant, learn about its sun requirements. Knowing the plants requirements can avoid any damage to the plant by incorrectly giving it the wrong conditions.

If your plant has been grown in a greenhouse, here are a few steps we recommend you follow:

  • After purchasing your plant, place it outside in a sheltered, shady spot or on your back porch.
  • Leave it there for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day.
  • Bring the plants back indoors each night.
  • Water it regularly to keep the plant moist.
  • Occasionally spray the leaves with water.
  • After 2-3 days, move the plants from their shady spot into morning sun, returning them to the shade in the afternoon.
  • After 7 days, the plants should be able to handle the outdoor temperatures, if they stay around 50 degrees F.
  • After 7-10 days, your plant is ready to be planted in its permanent location. Try to do this on a cloudy day and be sure to water the plant well.
  • Observe foliage daily. If any type of leaf discoloration occurs, put the plant back into filtered light and attempt this step at a later date.
  • Special care must be taken to avoid burning the leaves.

These are general guide recommendations. Some plants take longer than others to acclimate.


The best way to succeed is to plan before you plant. Let’s discuss location: Do you know where you want to plant your new berry plant? Avoid many future problems by considering all aspects of the planting spot, such as:

  • Cross-pollination
  • Sun and good soil
  • Leave space for future planting


Is a pollinator variety present? Cross-pollination by a different variety, of the same type of plant, is key to the success of many plants. In most cases, its absence is why the plant doesn’t bear fruit or produces poorly. Most berry plants are self-pollinating, but for a larger fruit and crop plant more than one variety.

Sun and Good Soil

Your plant would love a sunny place with well-drained, fertile soil. But it will be quite satisfied with six to eight hours of sunlight. Good drainage is required to keep your plant “happy.” If your soil has high clay content, use our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or add one-third peat to the soil at planting time. We do not recommend planting berries in heavy, pure clay soils.

Even if your yard isn’t the most ideal location, take heart. Most berries are very adaptable and respond well to fertilizers, so they can get along well even where the soil is nutritionally poor. Just steer clear of sites with extremely heavy soils or very poor drainage.

Space for Future Plantings

Once you’ve found out about fruit growing goodness firsthand, you’ll want to expand your home orchard. It’s important to plan so that the future growth areas will be ready when you are.


Few things are as delicious as homegrown raspberries, and the success of your harvest begins right with the planting site and method. For maximum growth and yields later on, give your plants the best foundation possible.

Before Planting

Before you plant, check your soil pH. This can be done by contacting your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Ideally, your raspberries need a soil pH between 6.0-6.8. Steer clear of soils that are extremely heavy or poorly drained.


  • Plant your raspberry bushes 3-4' apart with spacing between rows 6-8' apart.
  • Do not plant Red, Gold or Purple raspberries and blackberries closer than 75-100 feet to Black raspberries. Black raspberries are susceptible to viral diseases carried by aphids from nearby plants.

Planting Tips

  • As you plant your new berry bushes, avoid getting them too deep. The crown should be right at soil level with the roots just under the surface.
  • If your berries are potted, plant them at the same depth they are in the pot.
  • Water well with Stark® Raspberry Food solution.
  • Prune back the stems to about 2” on your bare root plants. Pruning is not necessary on potted berries.

Additional Notes

  • Your raspberry plants should live 8-10 years with proper maintenance.
  • Suggested number of plants for a family of 5: 20-25 plants (4-5 plants per person).

Soil Preparation

Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your plant’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.

The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.

When To Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

How To Prepare Your Soil

  • Roots grow faster when they’re spread out. Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily expand. Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix dehydrated cow manure, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. Make sure the peat moss you get is either baled sphagnum or granular peat. You can also add our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or 2 or more inches of organic material and work in evenly with the existing soil.

Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Common soil amendments:

  • compost
  • sand
  • manure
  • lime
  • peat moss

Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.

Soil Types

  • Clay and silt soils are made of very small particles. They feel slick and sticky when wet. Clay and silt hold moisture well, but resist water infiltration, especially when they are dry. Often puddles form on clay or silt soils, and they easily become compacted.
  • Loam soil is a mix of sand, silt or clay, and organic matter. Loam soils are loose and look rich. When squeezed in your fist, moist loam will form a ball, which crumbles when poked with a finger. Loam soils normally absorb water and store moisture well. Loam soils can be sandy or clay based, and will vary in moisture absorption and retention accordingly.
  • Sandy soils contain large particles that are visible to the unaided eye, and are usually light in color. Sand feels coarse when wet or dry, and will not form a ball when squeezed in your fist. Sandy soils stay loose and allow moisture to penetrate easily, but do not retain it for long-term use.


Fertilizing is an excellent way to replenish the natural nutrients in your plant’s soil. We recommend using Stark® Raspberry Food in early spring to strengthen roots and stimulate increased fruit production. Spring cultivation and summer mulching is also very beneficial.

Insects and Diseases

Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care; and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Crown Gall

Plants appear stunted and slow growing, leaves may be reduced in size, little or no fruit. If plant is dead, inspect roots for hard, woody tumors. Note: many things can cause stunted plants.


  • Consult County Extension Agent


They are the size of a pinhead and vary in color depending on the species. Cluster on stems and under leaves, sucking plant juices. Leaves then curl, thicken, yellow and die. Produce large amounts of a liquid waste called “honeydew”. Aphid sticky residue becomes growth media for sooty mold.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Cane Borer

Adult is long-horned beetle. Larvae indicated by sawdust.

Natural Control

  • Cut out infected cane until larvae is found and destroy.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Cane Blight

Enters through wounds made by insects or mechanically. Cause large brown dead areas (cankers). Often first noticed when leaves wilt and wither.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Cut back to below canker; disinfect shears between cuts with a part bleach and 10-parts water, dispose of pruning.

Spot Anthracnose

Commonly found on Black raspberry, reddish-brown sunken spots with purple margins and light gray centers on young shoots. Grow together into cankers. Leaves may drop early. Fruit may dry up. Over winters in lesions on old canes.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Proper pruning helps control. Always remove and burn old fruiting canes after harvest.

Orange Rust

Not common on Red raspberry but serious on all others, especially Blackberries. Underside of leaves covered with orange-yellow spores. Remove infected plants.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Remove infected plants.

Fruit Rot

Gray, hairy mold, decays blossoms, green and ripening fruits and harvested fruits.


  • Consult County Extension Agent

Powdery Mildew

Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt like patches on leaves and green twigs. Leaves may crinkle and curl upward. Over winters in fallen leaves.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray
  • Clean up fallen leaves and other debris.


Adult is yellow to brown sawfly beetle, 1/4” long. Larvae are brown and white, 1/8” long. Adults make slits in flower buds and larvae feed on berries.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew

Chemical Control

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer


Pinpoint size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Japanese Beetle

Adult is a metallic green beetle. Skeletonizes leaves. Larvae are a grub, which feeds on turf roots. Check turf product labels for timing of control of grubs. This is a problem more east of the Mississippi River.

Natural Control

  • Traps

Chemical Control

  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer

Rose Chafer

Beetle has 1/2” long, tan wings with reddish-brown edges and long, thin hairy legs. Skeletonizes leaves and flowers. Present in large quantities in June and July. Worst on sandy sites near grassy areas.

Chemical Control

  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer


Small insects, less than 1/2” long, with feathery wings, yellow to brown in color. Cause damage if they lay eggs in fruit soon after bloom, scarring the fruit. In summer they feed on new vegetative growth, and damage summer fruit (not usually considered a problem).

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew
  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray

Leaf Curl

Leaves thicken and curl much like they have aphids. Spread by insects usually from June until plants are ready to cultivate and caused by a virus and spread partially by Raspberry Aphid which are hard to control.

Natural Control

  • Remove and burn dead canes.
  • Remove wild berries from the area.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent


Leaves will thicken and curl, display ‘mottled’ color. There will be dark green areas and bright green areas on same leaf. Caused by a virus and spread partially by Raspberry Aphid which is hard to control.

Natural Control

  • Remove and burn dead canes.
  • Remove wild berries from the area.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Omnivorus Leafroller

Adult is bell shaped, blackish gray snout-like mouthparts, forewings dark rusty brown with tan tips. Over winters in larval stage in mummified berries, in weeds and other trash. Moths emerge in spring and lay egg masses on leaves. Eggs hatch in 5 days and larvae tie two young leaves together to form nest in which they feed. Does not roll leaves. Later nests can be found in flower clusters and in bunches. Damage is not only from feeding on leaves, flowers and berries, but feeding sites allows rot organisms to enter fruit.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Thuricide® Baccillus Thuringiensis (BT)

Spur Blight

A fungus causes spur blight and it first appears on new canes in late spring. Purple or brown discoloration appears just below the leaf or bud, often on the lower portions of the canes. They increase in size, expanding up and down the cane. Sometimes covering the area between the leaves but stops before reaches the next leaf or bud. Leaves may turn yellow and fall off. The fungus will overwinter on affected canes.

Natural Control

  • Bonide® Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray


Pruning is an important part of proper edible plant care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! Keep these things in mind:

  • You can have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way (even the experts).
  • It is best for your plant to do some pruning versus no pruning.
  • There are several reasons to prune: maintain the size and shape of the plant, stimulate strong growth, and overall fruit quality.

Pruning Tips

  • Pruning may vary depending on the raspberry variety you plant. Most berry bushes bear only once on 2-year-old canes. After the canes have produced fruit, you should prune them back to the ground to leave room for the stronger, 1-year-old canes.
  • Some pruning should be done every spring to keep the plants from becoming tangled and to improve their ability to bear.
  • You may want to stake or trellis-train your berry plants to keep them more compact and upright.

Red, Gold & Purple Raspberries

  • Prune in the spring, cutting young canes back to 4-5’. Entirely remove all weaker canes, leaving only eight to nine stronger ones.
  • Note: Red, Gold and Purple raspberries, blackberries and wild brambles should not be planted within 75-100’ of black raspberries. Black raspberries are quite susceptible to viral diseases from adjoining plants carried by aphids.

Black Raspberries

  • When new shoots are 3’ tall, snip off the tips. This results in vigorous side branches, which are pruned back to about 10” in the spring.
  • The canes of ever bearing varieties, which produce two crops a year, are maintained the same way as ordinary varieties. But do not remove the canes that bear the fall crop after harvest, because they will bear fruit the following summer. To grow a “fall-only” crop, remove all canes to the soil surface in early spring, just prior to new growth appearing.

Additional Notes

  • Everbearers fruit twice on the same cane. These canes will fruit at the tip during the fall and then bear again the following spring farther down the canes. If one large crop is desired, cut the canes back to the ground after the fall crop. This will result in a single, large crop the following fall.
  • A good reference book, such as Pruning Made Easy, can answer questions and guide you through the pruning process.


Spraying is important to the survival of your plants. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

When To Spray

At the First Sign of:

  • Bonide® Insecticidal Soap for aphids, mites and thrips.
  • Bonide® Captain Jack’s™ Deadbug Brew for fruitworms and thrips.
  • Bonider Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray for aphids, rust, blight, powdery mildew, mites and thrips.
  • Bonide® Borer-Miner Killer for aphids, mites and Japanese beetles.
  • Serenade® Garden Disease for anthracnose, rust and powdery mildew.
  • Bonide® Thuricide® Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) for omnivors leafroller.
  • GardenTech® Sevin® Concentrate Bug Killer for aphids, fruitworms, mites, Japanese beetles and rose chafer.
  • Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer for aphids, fruitworms, mites, Japanese beetles and rose chafer.


Unless you’re in an area where irrigation is usually needed for normal plant growth, you probably won’t need to water after the first growing year. Until then, follow these guidelines to get your new raspberries off to a great start.

General Guidelines

  • If summer brings about an inch of rainfall every 10 days or so, you won’t need to use the hose. But if it gets really dry, you can give your new plant a good, thorough soaking. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several plants at once.
  • It’s important to note that even if you’re in the midst of a brown-lawn drought, you don’t want to water too much. Once every 10 days or two weeks is plenty. Worse than dry, thirsty roots is waterlogged, drowning roots.


Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit, and how to store your harvest.

When to Harvest

For the best flavor and texture harvest your raspberries when it is dry and cool. The coloring should be a deep shade of red, black, purple or gold, depending on the variety. You can start harvesting in the second season. Grasp the berry, don’t squeeze, and give a gentle tug. If they release from the stem easily and the core remains, they are ripe. Don’t put too many in your container while picking or you’ll end up with squashed berries. Do not wash berries until you are ready to use them. Washing makes them more prone to spoiling.

Try to keep them out of the sunlight and refrigerate immediately after harvest. It is best to harvest every 2 or 3 days, to avoid over ripening and rotting fruit. Raspberries do not keep long after picking, at most 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator.

Annual average yield per plant is 1-2 quarts, ever bearers 2 crops.


If you are not able to use them right away put berries on a cookie sheet in a single layer and freeze until firm and then put them in freezer bags to enjoy all year long.

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Which option is best for me?

Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:


Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.


Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.


Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.