Should I replace the raspberry bushes that have not produced any fruit this season?


All of my raspberries have died this summer after six or so years of abundant harvests. I assume that it is because of all the rain this summer as they are in poorly drained soil.  Should I rip them out and start over or just cut them back and hope they rebound next year?


Jonathan Foster, Special Projects Assistant

A heavy rain season like we’ve had, coupled with poor drainage, does make me think any raspberry that failed to put out new growth has probably rotted. Scraping some of the bark off on the canes can help you decide–if there is green underneath, the plants are alive and dormant, brown they are dead. You certainly could cut them back and see if they return, but with the current site you will probably deal with this issue again in the future and you would already be looking at a season or two with no berries. As a result, I would recommend pulling them, amending the site to improve drainage by putting in sand, organic matter, and/or raised beds, and then planting fresh plants. Please refer to our UMaine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #2172, Raspberry and Blackberry Varieties for Maine to help you select the ideal plant. And, since you’re starting anew with amendments, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to get your soil tested at the  UMaine Extension Soil Analytical Lab.