I have a row of raspberries, but some of the plants have started to wilt and the leaves are turning yellow. What could be causing this, and is it contagious?
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This very much depends on when the leaves are turning yellow. If your raspberries are developing yellow leaves in the middle of summer, it's likely to be a deficiency in nutrients so it would be an excellent idea to top dress them with chicken manure, which is high in nitrogen, as soon as you can. You can use a pelleted form, or there is a powdered form called 6X. I prefer 6X because it's easy to handle and goes into the soil quickly. If you have a dog they are likely to eat the pellets, and pellets could attract rats.
Your raspberries also need a potash-rich fertiliser to encourage fruiting so give your canes a slow release feed such as Vitax Q4 twice a year, in autumn and spring. This excellent product can be used on all soft fruit and in the flower garden to feed roses and peonies.
Raspberries do not like wet conditions and if the soil is very heavy this can also cause the leaves to yellow and then they are likely to wilt. Planting them on top of a raised mound improves drainage.
Raspberries are also prone to getting viruses and if your canes are very old it may be an idea to invest in some new ones and plant them in a different position. Most viruses are spread by aphids, so you must remove the old canes before planting the new ones. Use a fruit specialist, such as Pomona Fruits. You can either buy bare-root in winter or plant containerised canes in the growing season.
Autumn-fruiting raspberries, which fruit between August and October, are generally easier to grow and ‘Autumn Bliss' still performs well. Autumn varieties don't need wire supports and they have a tougher constitution then summer varieties.
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