What's wrong with my raspberry bushes?

Asked June 25, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

My raspberry bushes are affected by a disease. I have tried removing sick plants, spraying with Neem oil. It returns next season. New canes are healthy 2nd yr fruiting canes start out fine but leaves begin to turn yellow throughout entire leaf and fruit is small, crumbly or does not even develop. I'm so frustrated. Do i need to pull out all plants and if I do, can I replant in the same area? I have added compost each year. thanks, Colleen

Franklin County Ohio

1 Response

Raspberries can be affected by a wide range of diseases and insects, as are most cultivated plants. For this reason, it is important to dispose of all pruning waste in the trash and pick ripening raspberries daily when they are producing

Weak plants, chlorotic leaves indicates viral, fungal, bacterial, nutrient deficiency or herbicide injury. Viruses are perhaps a more common reason for lack of production. A raspberry planting is productive for about ten years and yields best in the first five years after planting. Aphids introduce various viruses, which accumulate in a plant over time.

There are 15 known viruses that infect raspberry plants in North America. Once a plant is infected with a virus, it will never recover. Virus infected raspberry plants suffer from reduce growth, low fruit production and poor fruit quality.

Raspberries infected with viral pathogens exhibit a wide range of symptoms, depending on the variety of raspberry, the virus, weather conditions and the stage of infection. Virus infection can result in yellow rings, lines or blotches on leaves, leaf distortion, crumbly underdeveloped fruit or severely stunted plants. The only way to determine exactly which virus is causing the symptoms is to send a sample to the OSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic and pay for the laboratory tests to identify the virus. Additionally, your local OSU extension office may be able to identify the virus from a plant sample.

If your plantings are over ten years and you don’t want to send samples for diagnosis, then make a new planting, preferably in new soil. Start the new patch in another area of the garden using new, virus-free plants. You can avoid most of these problems for several years by purchasing only quality, true-to-name, disease-free raspberry varieties. This typically means mail-ordering bare-root plants from reputable nurseries. These should be planted mid-April through early May. Don’t plant donated rooted suckers from another gardener because they might be virus-riddled.

For additional information on addressing diseases and growing raspberries, consult: