Black raspberry not producing new canes

Asked June 19, 2019, 12:50 AM EDT

I have several black raspberry plants I put in last year as bare root plants. The cultivar is named Jewel. Of the four one got very vigorous very fast and shot out a bunch of long, strong canes. This year these canes are producing fruit. All to the good.

However, the plant isn't producing any new canes (primocanes). While the plant itself looks healthy and the fruit is ripening nicely I am worried about the lack of new canes. Eventually the canes that have borne fruit will die and without new canes the plant will have no leaves.

Will it produce new canes later or is the plant acting crazy? This is of special concern to me because it tip rooted several new plants that I am growing out. But if this plant has insane genetics it may be unwise to grow its progeny.

Thank you!

Clackamas County Oregon

9 Responses

If only one of the plants is not producing primocanes it seems unlikely to be a problem related to the ‘Jewel’ variety.

Are all of the plants producing fruit this year?
Are the other plants producing primocanes?
Is there any difference in the appearance of the base of the plant, the canes, or the foliage?

I have not been able thus far to determine what might cause this. If the answers to the above questions do not trigger anything I will pass your question on to the next level.

No, not all of the plants are producing fruit. Two are. I got four of them as bare root plants. I ordered two of them but the nursery sent plants that basically had no root system to speak of. They sent replacements. So four in total. All bare root.

One plant (the non primocane producing plant) went nuts last year and tossed out several large canes. These are now fruiting. I don't know why that particular plant did so well. The other three are much smaller. The next largest only has one (very short) fruiting cane). The rest have several small, thin primocanes. I'm not surprised that the others are taking so long to size up. They started as small bare root plants. It's to be expected they will take a couple of years to really get going. If it takes some another season before they really produce much fruit I'm fine with that.

I see no difference in appearance between the plants except one is much larger than the others) at the base or anywhere else. I don't see a lot of new growth coming from the case in any of the plants, at the moment. Though I do have pirmocanes on the other three. Not many, to be sure. But they have them.

Jewel was on Oregon State University's recommended cultivars for my region (Willamette Valley of Oregon).

Thank you!

I wonder if the ‘crazy’ plant is not really what you thought you bought. I’m going to reassign your question to another expert. Thank you for answering my questions. I hope you get a resolution.

Thank you for the response.

The leaves and canes match those of the other plants. One of the others will produce a small amount of fruit so I will be able to do a comparison on that basis. Right now the big plant has quite a bit of developing fruit (still very immature). The fruit is appearing in clusters of about five or so berries per cluster. If it looks and acts like a black cap when the fruit is mature I guess I'll have a better idea of what it is.

I got the plants from Raintree Nursery in Washington (they were shipped) which I have heard has a good reputation.

I found this article You may find this article helpful as well It mentions specifically that black raspberries (and Jewel is a variety of raspberry not blackberry, the difference being that with raspberries the core is left on the plant and with blackberries the core is part of the fruit when picked) reproduce from the crown of the original plant and not the roots, like most red (and golden) raspberries. I'm wondering if the crowns were damaged when you removed the floricanes.

I only have red and gold raspberries in my garden but I may try Jewel to see if I can better understand it's culture. It may also be worthwhile to contact Raintree and ask them if they have any suggestions that might help you diagnose the issue.

Thank you for the response. I have already read those articles but I reread them to make sure I was current.

I never removed the primocanes. And I never touched the crown or roots of the plant once it was planted. But the primocanes from last year rip rooted about four plants over the winter. I cut the rip rooted plantlets free this spring right at the soil line and left the rest of the cane alone. I didn't remove anything the last year (their first year when they were planted as bare root plants) because I figured the plants needed time to come out of dormancy and establish a root system. I was amazed when the one plant started tossing out primocanes left and right. I figured I got lucky and had an especially vigorous plant. The other three put out just a couple of short canes.

I did not have a trellis built when I put them in. Partly because the Jewel blackcaps were so tiny there was nothing to trellis until this year. Except the one plant that is now committing slow suicide.

I guess the question now is: What do I do with that plant? Should I keep the current floricanes on it so that it has leaf surface to photosynthesize? Or should I cut those canes after fruiting (which is what is normally recommended)? Cutting the floricanes might stimulate it to produce new primocanes. But it might also cause it to starve.

Should I just feed it a ton of nitrogen after fruiting to try and persuade it to put out new vegetative growth?

It's a weird situation to be sure. I appreciate your assistance.

I'm not sure what you mean by rip-rooted, but I'm going to go back to when you first planted:

Year 1: plant bareroot stock, each item has a 'crown' from where the current year's growth is the primocane and doesn't really produce fruit. The original cane is the 'floricane' and you might get some fruit from it, but it would be minimal.
At the end of that season, I would have cut back the floricane to about four inches.

Year 2: You now have floricanes that should produce a reasonable crop and you should have new primocane growth from the crown. Once you have harvested the crop from the floricanes, you can cut them back to four inches as they will die, or you can wait until fall to cut them out remove them. I think this was when you separated what you call rip-rooted. It's possible that what you did affected the crown but that is simply conjecture.

Year 3 (I think that is this year): At this point I would leave as much leaf as possible to photosynthesize and fertilize with balanced fertilizer (all numbers are equal) and I would probably default to an organic fertilizer as they tend to be 'gentler' on the plant than some of the synthetics. Watch for new growth and see if you get some spurts after fruiting. My other trick with fertilizing is to dilute it by a 1/3 or a 1/4 and fertilize more frequently. The plant will only take up what it can, over fertilizing will result in salt build up. I water first and then water with the fertilizer. If you fertilize and then water, you may wash away more.

Apologies. I meant "tip rooted." I think it's also called tip layering. The canes grew into the ground and created new plants (four of them) over the winter. When I found them I cut them free of the cane at the soil line (if I took off more two inches of the parent canes I would be surprised). These plants are now growing, slowly, in pots now. I was going to put them in the ground this fall but if the genetics of their parent is "off" I may not want to do that.

This is year two for them. Last year they were put in as bare root stock. A small root system and a tiny cane/stem on top. New canes actually grew from the underground root system and not from the original cane.

Three out of the four plants are still small. In their first year they put just a couple of tiny floricanes (their first canes). Those canes now have like... four berries on them. I actually cut the developing berries off because I figured the plant needed to put its energy into root and cane growth and not into fruiting. Getting a half dozen berries didn't seem all that important.

That's what all but that one plant has done. For some reason, last year it grew about eight fairly large and long primocanes. I left them alone and now they are fruiting this year. I put the plants in last summer (around this time actually). So there was no cane removal last year (the first year).

I'll probably give the plant extra fertilizer and leave the spent floricanes on until fall and then prune them off. Hopefully the plant can store enough energy to make it through the winter. And maybe it will put out some small floricanes this summer. I will try intentionally propagating a new plant via layering from one of the non nutso plants since I may need a replacement for the one that will probably starve to death.

On the upside: It is now creating some lovely black caps that are ripening.

I would recommend you contact Raintree. It sounds like some of what you purchased should be replaced (although you may be beyond a one-year guarantee.) I think you are doing everything you can. Good luck!