Top News

Growing Things: Dealing with raspberry blight

Fireblight is a frequent problem for raspberry plants.
Fireblight is a frequent problem for raspberry plants.

Q: I have a small raspberry patch and it seems my plants have developed some sort of blight in the last few years.

It attacks the new canes and the stems turn black and wither. I have been cutting them off when I notice the discoloration.

I first noticed this about four years ago, and each year since it seems to affect more and more plants. Is there something that I can spray on my new growth in the spring to stop this blight? I would appreciate your suggestions. Thank you for your time and expertise.

A: I sent this question off to my friend Dr. Ieuan Evans, retired plant pathologist.

I am very grateful to have Ieuan help me out with the correct diagnoses.

Here is his reply: “It’s a fireblight. In Canada we have two strains of fireblight one that attacks raspberries and blackberries and another that attacks apples, pears and other fruits. Unfortunately Boyne raspberry is also susceptible to the apple strain of fireblight. I did a research paper on this published in Holland (Acta Horticulturae 1995). Simply put, grow another variety of raspberry, anything but Boyne. Bees carry the fireblight from apples to raspberries and back. All other raspberries that I checked and available in Canada, such as Chief and Honey Queen are immune to the apple strain.”

Q: We have a plum tree, that has produced very minimal fruit in the past few years. We now have a lot of suckers growing in the lawn. Is there a way to stop this from occurring?

A: I would be a very rich man if I had come up with the easy fix to suckering trees. In short, the answer is no there is no silver bullet solution to this issue, unfortunately. Some experts believe that pruning is the key to controlling suckers.

Overpruning a tree can certainly encourage suckering but regular healthy pruning might be the way to keep suckers at bay. I know that’s a difficult sentence to comprehend but overpruning simply means pruning too severely.

If you do that you will encourage the tree to sucker. By healthy pruning, I mean removing water sprouts and excessive growth in the middle of the tree and keeping your pruning to only that which is necessary.

The suckers will likely continue but perhaps with less vigour. To remove them now I recommend getting right down to where the sucker is originating from and cutting it off with a sharp pair of pruners.

Try to cut it as low as you possibly can. In fact, if you can dig back a little of the soil or lawn whatever is there and cut the sucker even with the root it is coming from. This is a bit of a time-consuming method but over time it will work.

Just as a note of interest plum trees are often grafted onto a hardy rootstock. It is the rootstock that is being so persistent in sending up the suckers.

Q: I just read an article you wrote and one of the tips was that you can reuse packing peanuts in the bottom of large planters to make them lighter.

My question is can you do the same with broken up egg cartons? And would the styrofoam ones be better to use or cardboard?

I would like to know as I will be redoing my yard next year and would like some information to help me along.

A: The problem with using regular egg cartons is that when they get wet they collapse and your soil level in the container or planter will drop along with them.

The styrofoam ones would definitely stand up better to getting wet and would maintain their shape. You can also use both types of egg cartons to start your seeds in.

Fewer companies are using styrofoam peanuts now but many are still using chunk styrofoam to protect electronics etc. You can always make a trip to your local electronics store and ask if they have any styrofoam for you.

E-mail your questions to filipskigerald@gmail.com He is the author of Just Ask Jerry. To read previous columns, click here .

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories