jcjrogers
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Location: Horn Lake, MS

Elderberries crashing

My elderberry bushes crash every summer. This year, they are crashing earlier and worse than usual. They have just started producing berries and are dying back. This typically starts with brown spots on the leaves and then some dying canes. I was having problems with my blackberries, mainly that a cane would come up, look ok, and then disappear. However this season, my blackberries look like they are on steroids.

Because of these problems, last fall and this spring I put out some lime. Also, in the past, I only had compost around individual bushes for both my blackberries and elderberries. This spring, I completely filled both beds with compost. My elderberries are doing no better, actually worse this season. My blackberries are doing great. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Here are some pictures of the elderberries (if this works):

https://img38.imageshack.us/i/dsc00930iza.jpg/
https://img18.imageshack.us/i/dsc00937ltg.jpg/
https://img40.imageshack.us/i/dsc00938g.jpg/ - note the brown spots on new growth
https://img38.imageshack.us/i/dsc00932z.jpg/
https://img528.imageshack.us/i/dsc00935l.jpg/ - note the dead berry cluster

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Gary350
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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

I pick wild Elderberries every year along the road to make wine, jelly, pie. Elderberries grow in places many other plants won't grow. I know where there is a very large patch of Elderberries that are growing out of the cracks in solid rock with lots of brush and trees all around it. There are lots of Elderberries that grow along country roads next to the farmers fence where the weeds are 4 ft tall. I also know of 2 places where there is a lot of Elderberries growing next to a bridge in trees and brush 10 ft tall. I also know where there is a patch of Elderberries and Blackberries all growing together. The plants don't seem to care if the soil is good or bad, dry or wet, and the weeds and brush never seems to be a problem. The only thing I can think of that all these Elderberries have in common is lots of weeds and brush.

After looking at your pictures the only suggestion I have is maybe your plants need more weeds. Maybe Elderberries need shade from the weeds and brush or maybe they need competation.

I have a friend that has Elderberries in his back yard growing in a small spot that appears to be lots of plants all growing out of a 3 ft diameter circle. He mows around it with the lawn mower. His plants get a little shade from 2 pretty good size trees. My friend said he dug up some wild Elderberry plants and moved them on his yard many years ago.

Wild Elderberries are blooming now drive along the country roads and look for clusters of white flowers. Take notes and make map so you can find them later. The white flowers stick out like a sore thumb but later when the berries are ripe in August they are much harder to find. I cut the berry clusters off and put them in 5 gallon buckets. When I get home I put the whole clusters in my wine press and squeeze out the juice. I have noticed all the wild Elderberries do not get ripe at the same time. Some plants will have ripe berries in mid August while other plant 1/2 mile down the road the berries are still green as a goard and they won't get ripe until a month later.

jcjrogers
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Location: Horn Lake, MS

I don't know about there being too few weeds. The stuff I've read recommends keeping elderberries well weeded. Admittedly, on the side of the road they are mixed in with quite a few weeds, but that is likely due to there being weeds everywhere.

Today, I cut out the dead stuff. I left most everything green, even if the leaves were spotted. If I had removed everything with spotted leaves, I would have had to taken out everything.

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Diane
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Location: Mass

Maybe it's the compost. I put my compost around my blueberry and hydranga plants. They were not happy and showed some yellow in the leaves.
I made the mistake of not putting enough carbon in the compost mix. Something acid loving plants need.
I put peat, acid fertilizer and thunky wood mulch around them. They are improving.
Are your plants acid loving?
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

https://s600.photobucket.com/albums/tt87 ... G00047.jpg

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Kisal
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I haven't grown elderberries, myself, but the pictures struck me as looking like a blight or wilt of some type. Apparently, elderberries are susceptible to those diseases, as noted in this short article:

https://ssfruit.cas.psu.edu/83.htm

I suggest that you take samples of affected stems, leaves, flowers and fruit to your nearest Extension Service office. They can help you learn exactly what the problem is, and can advise you on appropriate treatments.

Sorry that I can't be of more help, but I think you really need an experienced person to do an hands-on exam of those plants.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

jcjrogers
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Location: Horn Lake, MS

From what I've read, elderberries like slightly acidic soil, like 6.0 - 6.5 pH, but can often tolerate a wide range.

Online I found someone in the agriculture department at Mississippi State to look at my elderberry pictures. He said he saw signs of blight and anthracnose fungal diseases in the pictures. He also recommended a non-systemic fungicide labeled for use on fruits/vegetables. I did some research on systemic and non-systemic fungicides and learned that systemic is absorbed by the plants and does a good job killing the fungi, where the non-systemic is not absorbed by the plant and doesn't do a great job of killing the fungi, but works well as a prophylactic. Since I'm not going to have enough berries this season to fool with, I figured I could spray with a systemic spray (ok'd for fruits/vegitables) this summer, and then use a non-systemic spray next spring. My logic being that the absorbed systemic spray would be gone from the plants long before they produce berries next spring/summer.

Any thoughts?

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Diane
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jcjrogers wrote:From what I've read, elderberries like slightly acidic soil, like 6.0 - 6.5 pH, but can often tolerate a wide range.

Online I found someone in the agriculture department at Mississippi State to look at my elderberry pictures. He said he saw signs of blight and anthracnose fungal diseases in the pictures. He also recommended a non-systemic fungicide labeled for use on fruits/vegetables. I did some research on systemic and non-systemic fungicides and learned that systemic is absorbed by the plants and does a good job killing the fungi, where the non-systemic is not absorbed by the plant and doesn't do a great job of killing the fungi, but works well as a prophylactic. Since I'm not going to have enough berries this season to fool with, I figured I could spray with a systemic spray (ok'd for fruits/vegitables) this summer, and then use a non-systemic spray next spring. My logic being that the absorbed systemic spray would be gone from the plants long before they produce berries next spring/summer.

Any thoughts?
I know you want this problem gone but I'd listen to the expert.
Gardens are a little bit of heaven on earth.

https://s600.photobucket.com/albums/tt87 ... G00047.jpg

Arlene
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Location: N. Idaho

Elderberries crashing

I looked at the photo with the brown spots on the leaves. They remind me of my bing cherry leaves. A master gardener told me they were turning yellow because of too much water which can cause a fungus which is the brown spots. It could be the same for other fruits, not sure. I love elderberry jelly. I used to make pies also.

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applestar
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What is the tree that the elderberries are growing under? It seems like the bushes immediately under the tree are affected more. The long hanging leaves are making me wonder if it's a Black walnut or walnut, and it's a juglone problem.

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