The Q&A Archives: Slow Growing Rasberry Bushes

Question: We transplanted approx 50 young and healthy rasberry bushes from Duluth, MN to our home in Mora, MN three years ago. The first year (we were told not to expect fruit) we did get an initial fruit output. Last year after covering the soil with wood chips the plants did not put out any fruit, only a few small berries here and there. I have now raked off all the chips in case this was wrong to do; however, what should we do to maintain the health of all these
bushes in the Minnesota weather...and, should they put out the same amount of fruit every year? Also..what is the
best fertilizer to use on fruit bushes and how often should it be applied? These are part of a very healthy fruit family and I want to be sure I'm not harming rather than helping.

Answer: There are several possibilities in causing the lack of fruit. One would be that the soil itself is not suited to the planting. Another would be that the woodchips either robbed the soil temporarily of nitrogen or possibly were too deep and kept rain from reaching the soil so the plants were stressed. Another possibility would be improper pruning techniques. Another possibility would be that cold weather precluded blooming and thus berries. You might start out by testing the soil and adding any ferilizer or amendments based on the results. Then review your pruning and watering techniques to make sure they are optimizing the berry production. Finally, you might want to verify with your extension (679-3010) that the variety you are growing is well suited to your area. They should also be able to help you with the soil testing and interpreting the results. I hope this helps.

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