Five management systems for the control of weed and sucker growth were compared over 8 years in a plantation of raspberries (Rubus idaeus) grown on the stool system. Traditional intensive cultivations consistently produced the tallest cane, which contributed to that treatment outyielding all others for the first 5 cropping years. Reduced cultivation systems, involving rotary cultivation and hoeing, or simazine and hoeing, outyielded non-cultivation systems which depended on herbicides alone. Lower numbers of fruiting canes, as well as poorer cane quality on non-cultivated plots, were associated with failure to remove raspberry sucker growth between the stools during the growing season on these plots. The introduction of mechanical removal of between-stool growth considerably improved the yield of one uncultivated treatment.
Possible beneficial effects of cultivation included the improvement of cane growth by ridging the crop, the concentration of crop growth in the stool itself by regular pruning of extension growth into the alleys and between the stools, and the prevention of competition between fruiting cane and suckers growing outside the stool area.
Analysis of the component operations of the old system shows that their useful features can be incorporated into modern systems of mechanised plantation management which depend largely upon herbicides for weed control.