Raspberries won't bear fruit!!

leanorSeptember 12, 2007

This is so weird.

I have had these Raspberry plants (over 100) for many years and have enjoyed great crops. 4 years ago, I moved them to the South side of a garage where they get more sun and longer growing season.

The plants have blooms in the Spring and in late Summer. Honey and Bumble bees work the plants, which are large, healthy and well watered. I have a million blooms, dozens of bees, but not one berry in 4 years.


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It sounds like they are, for some reason, sterile. Have you examined the flowers to make sure all of the necessary parts (stamens, pistils, etc) are there? Maybe you somehow moved a plant that had a random mutation. I can't see that more sun would cause complete sterility.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 2:16PM
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All parts are there and these plants are the original plants that I moved from an area where they did produce fruit.
I just don't get it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 2:34PM
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Is it possible that a virus would keep the pollinated flowers from producing fruit?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 4:29PM
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There is definitely something funny going on here, and I don't pretend to know exactly what it is, but the person in the best position to analyze the problem is you. Viruses normally show evident symptoms, such as leaf and cane dieback. I have not heard of a virus that would prevent a healthy, pollinated flower from producing fruit.

But I am puzzled that the plants have blooms both in spring and late summer. If they do, they must be different plants, primocanes and floricanes, since the same canes are not capable of blooming twice in the same season. Are you removing the floricanes after they bloom in spring so the incoming primocanes have room to grow? I assume so, and also assume you understand how to grow everbearing raspberries, since you did so successfully before.

About the only other thing I can think of is a serious deficiency in some soil element, such as potassium, which was adequate in your old bed but not in the new one. I have to admit this is just guesswork, but it may be time for a soil test on the South garage soil to at least discard this possibility.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 8:32PM
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None of the common raspberry viruses cause complete sterility. Many of them cause crumbly fruit, but there are other symptoms (leaf streaking,etc) that go along with it.

Do you have any blooms out there currently? If so, just to rule out a pollen transfer problem, take a paintbrush out there and move some pollen around between flowers. Mark those flowers that you hand-pollinate (yarn would work well) and see if anything happens with those.

I can't see that it would be a cultural thing such as too much heat or too little water, because I'm sure you'd be getting tiny little deformed things. But you're getting absolutely nothing, right?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 11:21PM
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Don...Not sure about the plants, but in the Spring I will get blooms on last falls stalks and then again on the current Spring stalks. We live in the desert and the soil is very sandy and void of everything, I turned in a lot of manure before planting, the same as in the previous bed, I will look into adding potassium and having the soil in this area tested.
I will also try moving some of the plants to another area and see what happens next Spring. I will also purchase a few new plants from the nursery and try that.

Fruitgirl...I've tried pollinating by hand and the best I could get was a tiny part of a drupelet on two blooms. It's like they just don't want to pollinate with me or bees.
Thanks so much for all the suggestions. This has become an obsession with me, as I just can't figure out what is going on.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 11:12AM
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There are four areas that I think might be the prombem:

  1. A chronically hungry neighbor (not likely?)
  2. A few birds that just noticed your crop this year
  3. Insects, typically stink bugs, in large numbers
  4. Disease weakening the plants and stressing them to the point where blossom clusters are non-productive.

You can rule out a few of these by determining if you have green fruit forming on these plants. Neighbors and birds usually won't bother green berries. Even stink bug damage leaves you with some damaged fruit. That leaves disease and sress. You should be able to see the progression of disease if you examine fruiting clusters.

You didn't mention about the weather of your desert climate but there is a real possibility that your clusters are just drying up from severe lack of moisture to the plant. How are you providing water for these plants?
Is this a dry year for you or is the soil where you moved the plants prone to dry out sooner?

I suspect that you might have a combination of factors in play. Recently moved plants might not have developed root systems well, especially in poor or dry soil. Then if a pest or disease adds to that load the small blossom clusters that do form are not supplied with enough nutrients to develop properly. I would suspect a virus may have infected your old plants even before moving. The only way to know for sure is to dig up the plants and have a plant pathologist examine them. But many of us experience decline in production after plants are several years old, usually in the same location.

It may be time to order new plants and isolate them from either of these current bed sites. Surface mulch and water the plants to give them a good start.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 1:46PM
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The problem is that there are NO clusters.
The most I have ever seen is 2 tiny pieces of a cluster.
I talked to our local Ag. rep. and he couldn't find an answer. Now, I am more determined than ever to find an answer.
I keep thinking disease, but would I have such healthy looking plants and blossoms if this were the case?
Again...plenty of bees, sun, water, sandy soil, manure plants that have produced while in another location.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 12:53PM
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Lenor, I agre with you that what you are seeing is VERY odd, and is likely not anything suggested by bmoser (I'm not trying to be offensive, bmoser) given that you're getting absoultely NOTHING and your plants are healthy otherwise.

Just to make sure of something; when you transplanted from the old area to the new, did you get just one or two plants (or root cuttings, whatever you used) from a very small area, or did you take many plants over a larger area? The reson I ask is that you may have moved a chance mutation that just happened to be sterile. These things happen sometimes, and really seems to be the most likely thing right now.

The only other thing I can think of is a nutrient deficiency. I did some google searching, and found that boron, zinc, and copper have all been implicated in sterility in wheat and rice. However, I do know that boron deficiency usually causes tip dieback in raspberry.

When you purchase new plants, try "sacrificing" a couple by putting them in the current site (of course, put most in a new site). That way you'll be able to figure out whether it's the site or the plants. Also, move some of the seemingly-sterile plants to another spot in the yard to see if they suddenly start fruiting.

Please keep us updated! I really want to know what's going on here, too!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 1:44PM
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No tip die back. Healthy buds emerging now. Plenty of blossoms, nice plants, but thousands of dried, dead blossoms and no fruit.
To answer your quesion...I transplanted the plants with roots. No cuttings.
In Spring will purchase new plants for a different area, but will plant a couple in the spooky area to see what happens. We are sitting on an ancient Indian burial ground here. Makes me wonder if I didn't pick a bad spot for my berry patch.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 6:18PM
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Ok, yes, but when you did that transplanting, did you move a lot of different plants, or just a few from a very small area of the old patch?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 7:07PM
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A few from a small area. Why do you ask?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 11:17PM
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Well, what you may have moved was a random mutation, either from a seedling or from a sport. By only moving plants from a small area, maybe you just happened to grab plants that had come up from the roots of that one random mutation. The biggest reason I think this is because it really sounds like this is more of a genetic cause than anything, since the plants are pretty much completely sterile.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 12:38AM
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You might be right. I will consider all your suggestions.

Thanks all for your help.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 10:49AM
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You are taking the correct approach to get new plants. Although I wouldn't rule out a nutrient deficiency (or nutrient toxicity effect) I'd still think that a bacterial or viral disease is more likely.

The difficulty that I have is with your discription of "Plenty of blossoms" but no fruit. I examined my heritage plants as I picked last night and to the best I can tell the transition from blossoms to immature fruit is about 2 days. Surely you either have the entire primocane drying up or you should see some fruit development.

In stressed plants (disease or drought) I've noticed blossom clusters that are small, tight and usually on a weak cane. These primocanes typically produce only small, crumbly berries that aren't worth anything. I vision this as what you might be experiencing.

I mention my diagnosis out of concern and because I have a similar situation. I have started this year 2- 400+ foot rows of transplanted roots (1 floricane, 1 primocane variety) that I tried to get started from healthy established plantings. Due to our severe drought the transplanted plants are all but a total loss. Some have life but there are definitely no berries to harvest. Established plantings were affected but are now producing very well on shorter canes.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Not to be grim, but recently I have read a lot of articles about colony collapse disorder. Bees disappearing. My vegetable garden failed miserably this year. Most of my squashes suffered from blossom end rot and i didn't see one bee in the backyard this summer. Your bushes sound healthy and have fruited in the past.

I also read a comment following a colony collapse article, this woman said she saw hundreds of dead bees, (perhaps an entire colony) near a wasp trap in the grocery store parking lot.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 2:27PM
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I have been reading the posts on this as I have the same problem: healthy, vigorous plants, thousands of blossoms since about late March, even now there are still some new blossoms appearing, but soon after they finished blooming the blossom stems dry up and as a result I have not head ANY fruit, not one.
I have had the lack-of-pollination suspicions too, as I have not seen many bees around here. But then, my fruit trees have set fruit, albeit may be a bit fewer than last year.
I will post some photos in the next post.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Here my photo link mentioned above:

Here is a link that might be useful: Raspberry problem

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 5:08PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Don't know where you are located, but I see what appears to be iron chlorosis on some leaves, meaning iron deficiency (this happens all the time for me, and only affects production in severe cases). I have a high pH soil which limits iron availability. Severely affected branches often bloom, then dry up. If you have a high pH soil, you might add some sulphur or better yet, ferrous sulphate.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 1:42AM
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I am having the same problem you described in 2007. Did you ever discover what the problem was?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2010 at 10:00AM
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I also have been having issues last few years with big healthy plants and almost no fruit! Question: the canes that are producing have course sharp thorns, canes on none producing canes are more soft and almost... fuzzy... Do u see this as part of your identification of the canes in question? I have tried pulling all "fuzzyish" canes and only planting regrowth from producing plants with no success. Am getting frustrated...

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:18PM
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I seem to have the same problem but the raspberries in question are from a pot that I thought had died, left it in the strawberry bed and the next year up came a dozen canes! i eagerly awaited the next year when I thought there would be berries, but none, and the next, flowers and no berries but I had few bees (feeding the birds too close to the beds?) and then this year a gazillion flowers, a bajillion honey bees, and maybe 5 very poorly looking berries forming like the bees did not manage to get pollen ANYWHERE. Virus? I see none of the signs I can find documented on googleness. Mutant canes? This is so weird. It does seem to be a red berry as opposed to a black raspberry, thorns not as evil as the black raspberry in the front yard. Anyone find any definite diagnosis from such a scenario as I've red several here having?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 2:43AM
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