Elderberry Bushes
Q.

Elderberries Not Getting Dark Purple

Zone 5 | NMarie2 added on September 17, 2013 | Answered

I've read many sites - seen this question before, but no real answers. I have 3 areas of elderberries - they are at least 10 years old. They have had compost, manure and some fertilizer. They are weed free. They have been watered. They have been pruned. They flower heavily, turn green. I have more than one variety. Each head then gets a combination of green and red - perhaps a few - but very few dark purple berries. The red, along with the purple fall off. It's not the birds. One indication I read on how to tell if they are ripe is that the heads droop.  That is poor indication, as they are still not purple when this happens. The red ones can be squished, so they are at least somewhat soft. Are they lacking something in the soil?

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NMarie2
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on September 20, 2013

Thanks for the response. There are a lot of sites on line with growing information, I probably have read most all of them - definitely searched the net before asking the question. The one connected to your link didn't discuss much of anything, but I did recently find something elsewhere that might indicate the problem is too little nitrogen and I did test and the plants are deficient in nitrogen - they were given adequate amounts in the spring - then we had something like 14 days of rain. Just have to wait 'til next year to see if results happen. Thanks again

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AnnsGreeneHaus
Answered on September 20, 2013

Glad you found an answer, just remember that too much N will promote foliar growth to the point of reduced fruiting. Hope this works. Have never eaten an elderberry, but from what I read they must be like jostaberries, use processed, not fresh. Those things are s o u r !

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AnnsGreeneHaus
Answered on September 19, 2013

The University of Kentucky and The University of Missouri and Missouri State University have elderberry production programs which include harvest and use. Like you, there seems to be a lack of literature concerning your problem. The article at this link offers a lot of information, but no solution: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CDBREC/introsheets/elderberry.pdf

This might be a good question to ask your local agricultural extension agent.

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