The Q&A Archives: Raspberry plant, curling and dying of lower leaves

Question: I have some two-year-old black raspberry plants that were growing great until last year, when suddenly the leaves of the first- and second-year-old canes started to curl and die. How can I stop the problem? John Mills Ypsilanti, MI

Answer: Verticillium wilt may have caused the problem, says Paul Otten, general manager of North Star Gardens, growers of more than 100 varieties of raspberries in Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. Symptoms include curling and dying of the lower leaves, followed by wilting and drooping of the canes. Eventually the whole plant dies. The wilt is usually noticed when the plant is water stressed under conditions of drought, high temperatures or high winds. Black raspberries are particularly susceptible to this wilt, he adds. The best solution is to remove and burn the plants, advises Otten. Don't plant any verticillium-wilt susceptible plants such as strawberries, tomatoes, peppers or potatoes in that area for four to five years. When you replant a new cropof berries in another location, choose a site that is well drained and plant only certified disease-free stock, preferably red raspberries, which are less susceptible to the disease.

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