Moving healthy Raspberries in a row with Root Rot

Asked June 17, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

I have a most beautiful 20' row of raspberries but one plant in the middle has always "died" as soon as it turned warm. I was crossing my fingers and hoping that since we'd just moved in some former owner had dumped something there in the soil that was causing the issue. Now, three years later, I've convinced myself that it is root rot and am anxious to save my raspberries. We planted three different varieties (don't remember what). I'm thinking perhaps the "middle" variety was more susceptible to rot. It seems like the consensus for the only real solution is to start over somewhere else and if possible in a raised bed. My question is, can I start over with the healthy looking plants on the ends of my row? That would be starts from the other two varieties or do I need to totally abandon that whole patch and start completely over? Thanks, Rose

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

The short answer is that, if the problem is root rot, you should not plan to move any of the existing berries to a new site because you will also move the soil-borne disease organism.

But I think we need to verify your tentative diagnosis. To do so, dig up the affected plant, set it on a tarp to prevent scattering the soil-borne organisms. Roots affected by root rot will be shortened and blackened. Once the root system begins deteriorating, new roots may arise above decayed ones in summer, but those new roots are often weak and lack lateral development. The next fall and winter, during cold, wet weather, the new roots become infected; the plant progressively declines and is unproductive.

Because you say that the problem hasn’t spread from the one plant during the past 3 years, you may be able to keep the rest of the bed productive for quite a while by using good cultural and fertilizing practices. I suggest you discard the affected plant and the soil surrounding its rootball, then don’t plant anything else in that particular spot.

If the problem is root rot, it’s very likely to spread through the planting. If that occurs, start a new bed with fresh plants, and then rely on cultural practices rather than chemicals. Chemicals are not available for use in home gardens.
- Prepare a planting bed in deep, well-drained soil that has not grown small fruit (strawberry, raspberry, brambles) for several years. Amend the soil with gypsum, then create a raised bed at least 12 inches tall and without rigid sides.
- Don’t move any of your current plants to the new site because you risk moving the disease organism in the soil. Instead, obtain fresh stock from the garden center. (Fresh stock arrives early in the year.)

- Plant resistant cultivars if available. 'Chilliwack', 'Meeker', 'Sumner', and 'Summit' are moderately resistant. Young 'Meeker' plants are very susceptible but mature plants seem to have some tolerance. Avoid 'Canby', 'Comox', 'Qualicum', 'Malahat' and 'Skeena' are very susceptible; 'Amity', 'Chilcotin', 'Nootka', and 'Willamette' are susceptible.

Please let me know if you have additional questions.