Berries Foraging

When to Pick Wild Raspberries

A favorite mid-summer activity of mine, I’m always down to go exploring through a thicket of wild raspberries in search of that tiny, delicious fruit.

When can you pick wild raspberries? Most climates will have the season for wild raspberries peak around July. Some warmer regions may have seasons that start in June, and the latest you can expect to find a decent amount of wild raspberries is in mid-August. Different levels of light access will also impact when the fruit are ripe.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more to consider when you’re getting ready to dive into wild raspberry season.

When Can You Pick Wild Raspberries

As you might expect, the exact seasons of when you can pick wild raspberries depend on a few different variables. Not just only about which climate you live in, it’s also relevant to consider which type of spots you’re visiting.

In this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about figuring out when you can go picking wild raspberries.

The Start of the Season Varies Based On Your Location

The most important variable when figuring out when you’re wild raspberry picking season starts is your climate. Simply put, hotter climates that have raspberries present will tend to have earlier seasons. It’s also worth considering what types of spots you’re visiting to find your wild raspberries.

One of the most prolific plants in existence, wild raspberries, can grow just about anywhere and everywhere. Because of that, you can have plants that are growing along a trail in a mature forest just as easily as you can have a field of wild raspberries on some recently logged land.

As you may guess, the recently logged land allows for significantly more light to penetrate down to the raspberries, and you would expect them to mature quicker.

Wild Raspberries on a Single Cane Ripen Progressively

The other thing to think about is that the berries present on a single cane will ripen progressively throughout the season. This means that each time you visit a cane, it may have different berries that are just about ripe.

You can expect an individual wild raspberry cane to have fruit present on it for at least a month and potentially longer. This is one of the more enjoyable aspects of raspberry picking from my perspective, as it easily turns into something you can make a habit out of.

Weekly trips are a great option for those looking to stay on top of their local wild raspberries but don’t want to go too crazy with it.

Late June through Early August is Likely Your Best Time

All right, so what are the actual months of the year in which you’re going to be surrounded by wild raspberries ripe on the cane? This may vary slightly based on your location, but I would estimate that late June through early August is likely going to be the best time for you to be picking wild raspberries.

Most will find that July is their most productive month, as the plants can tend to stop producing once they get to the late summer heat of August. It’s worth noting that the wild raspberry season tends to run earlier than wild blackberries by about a month.

Blackberries will generally peak around late July and August. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re looking for buckets and buckets of wild raspberries, your best bet is to find locations with lots of sunlight that are dominated by wild raspberry plants.

Wild raspberries, unfortunately, aren’t as prolific as wild blackberries, so every blackberry plant that you see makes you walk further to the next raspberry plant.

Consider Changing Your Approach Throughout the Season

One thing to keep in mind is that you may have to look in different spots when your raspberry picking throughout the season. As we discussed earlier, different plants receive different amounts of sunlight, and the more sunlight is received, the sooner the fruit ripens.

When the season is just starting, you’ll likely have your best luck looking for raspberry canes with the best exposure to southern light. Once you get into the middle of the season, there’s no other way to put it: these things are just about everywhere, so you won’t have to worried about exact strategies.

However, at the end of the season, you can expect that the canes with the most exposure to light are now burnt out and without fruit. At this time of the season, you’ll likely have the best luck by looking in shady areas that have been protected from the summer heat.

How to Tell if a Wild Raspberry is Ripe

Now that we’ve covered when you can fix wild raspberries from a calendar perspective, it’s probably worth touching on what to look for when picking for ripe fruit. First things first, wild raspberry fruit is truly ripe when the fruit itself is soft to the touch.

Ideally, you want a fruit that feels like it might smush if you applied a modest amount of pressure. A good way to tell that a fruit is ripe when you’re picking them is that the wild raspberry fruit doesn’t have to be physically “pulled” off the cane. If you happen to be too late, you may notice that the fruit is starting to come apart on the plant, or other critters may start to eat it.

The fruit of wild raspberry plants are noticeably better when they are the right level of ripeness but understand that the clock is ticking as soon as you pick them. Soft fruits like raspberries and blackberries don’t last long, and wild raspberries are no exception to this. If anything, they may start to develop mold quicker than their domestic counterparts.

Raspberries, Black Caps, and Blackberries: What’s the Deal?

We won’t get too deep into the weeds regarding the differences between these different kinds of wild raspberries and blackberries, but it’s good to go over a couple of high-level details.

As you might expect, black cap raspberries are much more similar regarding their plant structure to a wild raspberry plant, but the fruit turns black when ripe. On the other hand, wild blackberries are much more prolific per plant and have an entirely different plant structure that you should notice in the field without much training.

And on top of that, the reality is that each of these groups has different varieties and slightly different species, which complicates things further. The good news is that they are all delicious and more than easy enough to identify.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this post and came away with a new idea or two. I always enjoy wild raspberry season and it’s always great to look forward to awesome picking in those summer months.

If you need more articles that get into the nitty-gritty details of foraging, then check these out:

By Drew Meulemans

I've long admired forests and devote much energy to learning about them and exploring. I enjoy sharing what I learn and wish to inspire others to do the same.