Anyone else having trouble with raspberry plants wilting?

spot-e-dogJune 17, 2012

My raspberry patch is suffering from an epidemic of plant wilting and dying. I have many varieties and they all seem to be effected - most plants are healthy while others nearby just wilt and die. These are mature plants with fruit set. Soil moisture seems about right, and while there are some patches where the problem seems particularly acute, the problem is not limited to specific areas. In fact, I'm having this problem in 3 separate beds. Any idea what's going on?

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I know you've probably already checked this out, but is it possible that you have a mole run under part of the patch? This happens to me with a lot of different plants.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 1:17PM
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Need to see photos. Raspberries (and blackberries) are prone to verticillium wilt, which is prevelant in PNW soils. Also to phytophthora, which can be encouraged by poor drainage or overly wet soils.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 2:00PM
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OK, I haven't uploaded before - hope this works

Thanks for the quick responses. barb_wa, it could be a mole, but my dog is very vigilant with them and hasn't been hanging out near the trouble spots. Plus, no signs in my adjoining vege garden.

The picture looks like a confusing of leaves to me. Is there anything specific I should focus in on?

Thanks again

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 2:36PM
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If the whole plant is slowly drying out and dying, it is most likely a root problem, as mentioned above.

If this year's new canes are wilting partway up, that is cane borers.

I applaud your trellis system with the top rail, same setup as mine.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 11:58PM
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Cane borer could be it. Based on your post, I did some reading and much of what I read sounds like my problem. I'll be traveling for a few days but I'll do some forensic work when I return. Thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:58AM
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OK, I did some research on cane borer, and I don't see any evidence in my patch. I pulled out a couple of dying canes and cut them up, looking for damage. In the picture, the cane on the left is how the cane looks from about 1 foot above the ground all the way to the top. The middle is from about 6" above the ground, and the one on the right is from about 1" above the ground. Any ideas??

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:49PM
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Cane borer damage is apparent without dissecting the plant (there is a dark ring around the cane just below the wilt point--usually only affects new canes).

Root problems with raspberries are maddening because the plant will go through the first-year cycle, then bloom the following year, set a few little green fruits, and then dry out and die because of root disease or rot--the process accelerated by the warmer dryer weather.

I hope this is not your case, as the berry patch will get weaker year-by-year. I don't have a certain answer, but do get rid of all affected plants immediately, roots and all.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 3:34AM
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...if it is a root problem, the plants you pulled up should have had pretty wimpy or minimal roots, compared to an unaffected plant. At this stage of growth, in healthy plants, there should be some very small whitish roots actively extending from the older roots.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 3:38AM
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Thanks larry_gene. I've been reluctant to pull the plants up root and all because others in the area are doing well. But you hit on something I didn't mention - this problem has been progressive. I've always lost one plant here and there with the same problem (set fruit then die), but it has gotten worse in the last few years. This year is by far the worse, but last year was bad too.

If it is a root problem, I would be willing to take up the entire patch and start over. That's how frustrating this problem is. Then I'll have a new set of questions about starting a new raspberry patch.

Thanks for you help

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Picture of the root ball of one of my wilted canes. I don't see any new, white roots, so as I understand it, this would suggest it's a soil/root problem. You can also see the sick looking leaves from some of the other plants in the background. Is it time to get the shovel and yard waste bin out?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 6:21PM
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Well, I assume you will be getting some berry crop this year. I might even stick with the patch or at least the best bed until over 50% of the plants die.

The problem with soil diseases that affect raspberries is the pathogen stays in the soil for several years. I was never able to plant more red raspberries here, they just died out after two or so years every time. The neighbor across the fence never had a problem with his.

Black raspberries are much less likely to succumb. Blackberries are not affected at all--you can plant them right in where the raspberries have been dying.

Any replanting of red raspberries should be done at some distance to the current beds and perhaps in raised beds with new soil.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 3:46AM
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Updating this thread, I've lost about 75% of my primocanes (this year's crop) and about the same amount of my new growth (next year's crop). The picture shows the roots of last year's most productive cane. Virtually no raspberries this year and most of the new growth has wilted and died.

So, the whole patch is coming out, soil and all. I want to preserve the healthy new canes, but I don't want to contaminate new soil with soil clinging to the transplant's rootball. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about soaking the roots in buckets of water then hosing them off before planting.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 8:53PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I had a 20 ft row of an older variety from my MIL that got a problem like this, I lost all of them but the end plant which still bears. I planted 6 or 7 other varieties, in different beds, and some have had trouble and died, while others are doing OK. Latham, Meeker, and Willamette are still OK though I lost part of Willamette in another place and moved the healthy canes, which are still healthy- the flavor of the berries is wonderful. Chilliwack, which has extra large flavorful berries, did well for many years but then had some problems and is swallowed up in a thimbleberry thicket, I keep meaning to chop into it and see if any are left. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 10:48PM
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WSU has a new Variety Cascade Delight that is resistant to root rot. Might want to check that out.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 3:49AM
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I've puzzled over why some canes have died out and others in the same area are doing OK. Most of my canes are Caroline and Tulameen, but I did buy some Cascade Delights 3 or 4 years ago. I can't be sure, but it may be that it's those canes that are still alive and producing. Thanks for the tip

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 9:58AM
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I have 2 year old Caroline Red rapberries. They had fruit late last fall and I then cut the entire patch down. It is only the first part of May. We have had some rain and now it is dry - I would not say they had too much rain and they are in good draining soil. They are not dry either. I have looked at the leaves, examined the stems, dug up and looked at the roots. They have a nice root system. here and there - about a dozen new sprouts - about 5 - 8" high just die overnight. Tops wilt, leaves turn brown. Area is fenced in and see no indication of insects or rodents or tunnels.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 3:35PM
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That would be a typical description of cane borer damage--look for a tiny dark ring around the stem just below the wilt point. Leaves below the wilt point remain green for a time.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:41PM
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Thanks Larry_gene for the response. Just to let you know the problem still exists. I closely examined several and dug a few up and even cut them open. No rings, no bores, no evidence of damage inside the stems. I took about 8 and put them in pots in the green house. They seem to be doing well. - these were in the same soil as last year where they were growing well. I am wondering if somehow ph is too high.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 10:20AM
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Updating my post a little over a year later, I've had some success, but as to whether my fixes will work in the long-term, only time will tell.

First, I took up 15 ft of a 25 ft row entirely. As an aside, I left the soil and planted pole beans, which have been wildly successful. As to the 10 ft that I left, it did well, with only one plant wilting mid season. I think the majority of plants in this bed are Cascade Delight.

Second, I entirely removed the soil from a second, 20 ft row, lined the row down to 2 ft with a permeable liner, and replaced the soil with vegetable garden soil. I mostly planted new Caroline plants in this bed. Results were poor. The new growth did well until July then about half the plants wilted.

In a third small bed, I transplanted some 2-year old Caroline that were doing well (no signs of problems) into an area that was mostly native soil (read that as clay). I did mix in some compost, but still the growing medium is pretty poor. Other than transplant shock, I expected ok results, and that proved to be the case, mostly. One plant died, looking suspiciously like a root rot problem, though I didn't dig it out to confirm.

Lessons learned:
1) You can run but you can't hide. If you have the pathogen in your soil, it will find your raspberries eventually.
2) It does seem like Cascade Delight is more resistant than other varieties.
3) Basic soil health doesn't seem to make a difference one way or the other.

So, it was an ok year. I'm keeping things as they are for another year to see if the number of plants affected increases, as Larry_gene suggests is likely.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:13PM
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I have been noticing dying and wilting raspberry stalks all spring. Individual stalks were dying one at a time. They set berries and then just "dry up". At first I thought it was some kind of bug, or voles digging tunnels in my garden causing the water to run straight past the raspberry roots. Lol, I thought they weren't getting enough water. Turns out, the opposite may be the answer. After finding this forum, I think root rot may be my problem caused by too much water. When I cut out a newly dying stalk, it was so soft that my snipers could barely cut through it.(the picture someone else posted looks just like what was happening to my stalks) Upon reading this forum, I realized the Caroline raspberries that were dying were next to my fountain and would get gallons more water when I would clean the fountain than the other stand of Caroline that are doing fine. Also, I laid pine needles around the raspberries last fall and this spring. It keeps the weeds back, forms a soft, clean walking path for picking, and they smell amazing in the sun. I didn't think that too much water could be a problem because on a sunny day, those plants get about 18 hours of southern sun. Also, our house is a deep blue which causes that area to get very hot. The ground dries to concrete very quickly in my "berry patch". But raspberries are tough and I may have been pampering them too much. I picked up the pine needles from around the raspberries and I will direct the water the other direction when I clean the fountain from now on. I just want to tell my experience and what I am trying. I will update in late summer. Photo below: on the left is the wilting patch of Caroline just after clearing out the bad stuff. On the right are the healthy Caroline. The fountain is about 3 ft to the left of the wilting patch. You can just barely make out the edge of the fountain.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 3:54PM
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From your picture I cannot see the wilting and dying you described (I do see a lack of fruit), but your idea about discarded fountain water over-watering the nearby canes is a good one, if this was being done on a weekly or more often basis.

18 hours of southern sun is a bit much for your latitude, perhaps you meant to type an 8.

Put a level on your deck. Does more rain water run off the wilting-cane corner? This could happen year-round.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 12:17AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Unless I missed it, no one has commented about the images of the roots.
Dark shortened roots = classic images of root rot

- To do a new bed, it must be in a new place in clean soil.
- A raised bed, without rigid sides is best. Raise it at least 12 inches. Higher is better.
- Do NOT move any plants from the existing bed, no matter how healthy they seem to be.

The organism is in the soil -- if you move plants or soil from the area, you also move the disease.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 1:17AM
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I started a new bed of red and black raspberries back in 2008. They looked lousy for a couple of years. I didn't bother with them, and now they are producing lots of berries for the last two years. Just another possible outcome for you.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:05PM
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