Black Raspberries with NO Flavor

I have a 3 year old staked row of black raspberries. Jewel is one type, I believe Bristol is the other. I am in SE Tennessee and have been looking forward to their rich flavor. I am very disappointed to report that they have no flavor whatsoever. Not sweet, not fruity, not sour. Nothing. Just soft (yes, they are ripe) and bland. Last year was the first year for berries so I decided to give them another chance, but no change.

Is it a fertilizer issue? They are not in super rich soil, but several years of mulch have built up a layer of dark soil on top. They are mulched and I gave them 10/10/10 this spring. They look good, and are putting up nice new canes for next year.

Is it location? Is it too hot/humid here?

I am also dealing with daily hordes (literally thousands) of box elder bug numphs and teenagers throughout the spring and early summer, which seem to love the berries even when tiny and just beginning to form. I spray them with soapy water, they seem to die, but then the plants are covered again the next day. This, combined with the tastelessness, has about made me decide to tear them out. (Two very large seed-bearing box elder trees are nearby)

Would the box elder bugs be extracting the flavor? (I know, sounds silly, but I am grasping)

Anyone have any advice?

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Could they be getting too much water, causing them to be bland when ripe?


Are you eating them raw? I’ve found ours to be pretty dull fresh but are great when cooked.

I grew both as well, for almost 17 years. No flavor to write home about. Bland.

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They’re supposed to be very intense tasting. Could be all the rain?

I make syrup out of many berries and black raspberry has high sugar compared to others. Rarely having any tartness. Mixing them with a tarter fruit for my taste brings out the flavor. Mulberries give the best flavor but blackberries or honeyberries work pretty good too.
I would never describe the flavor as intense. Mild comes to mind.

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My family raves about a patch of wild black raspberries in a local park. I have tried them and do not find them particularly flavorful. I much prefer my yellows.

This is disappointing to hear since I planted Bristol in early spring. Fingers crossed for mine being an outlier

We’ve grown Jewel for several years and it’s pretty much my favorite fruit. Very flavorful and to me it’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Really good fresh and makes killer deserts, jams, and smoothies. Maybe growing conditions have a larger impact on black raspberries than on other fruits? Excessive rain does seem to weaken the flavor, we see the same with raspberries and strawberries. But it’s never been to the point where I would characterize it as bland or tasteless.

I’ve heard it said that even red raspberries grown in southern conditions don’t develope the full flavor profile. There’s something in the longer days and cooler nights that promotes the development antioxidants and flavor components among other things.

Jewel black raspberry to me is probably the most intensely flavored fruit I’ve ever tasted. It’s not a sweet fruity berry kind of flavor like a boysenberry but rather a spicy, musky, black fruits and licourice kind of taste coupled with an almost leathery texture. The aftertaste lingers in your mouth for a long time.

That certainly seems to be the case in my area. Both wild (and Jewel Black) black raspberries beat locally grown red raspberries every time. They’re still not what I’d call super intense, but they have a nice sweet/tart balance such that I can pick and eat a lot of 'em… Been doing so for the past ~week.

We have a lot of wild/invasive Wineberry in this part of the county and I often hear folks call them “red raspberry”. They are certainly more intense tasting than local black raspberries.

Wineberry for me was the bland one :grin: I would describe it as having a very mild red currant taste but without the tartness.

Wow, isn’t it amazing how things can be so different in different areas… Around here Wineberry might just be the most tart and intense flavored fruit I’ve ever eaten. And “red raspberry” being possibly the least intense/flavorful (I’ve tried Latham Red, Caroline, and probably a few others through the years).


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Last spring was wet, this spring has been dry. Didn’t seem to make much difference.

I was trying them raw. I have had them raw in Montana and Ohio and Pennsylvania, and they were very tasty. But after you suggested it, I went out, grabbed a handful, threw them in a bowl and microwaved them. Wow! Flavor!! Just as I remembered! Thanks for that!

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Varied rainful hasn’t seemed to make a difference over the last couple of springs.

I can attest that my reds don’t taste as good as they did in Ohio and PA, so maybe that is the issue. Thanks,

Thanks for all the suggestions and input. I tried cooking a handful, even just briefly in the microwave, and WOW, there is the flavor I remember!

I am going to move them, to get them away from the box elder bug assaults, but I will be keeping them and not getting rid of them.

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Me too. I’ve tasted quite a few wineberries, and most were underwhelming. A few were better flavored and worth picking, but still only a fraction of the flavor of a store bought red raspberry.

I used to have Bristol black raspberries a few years ago and was unimpressed. They grew great with little no pest issues and no irrigation. They have since been removed due to being pretty much flavorless.

I’m 45mi south of Nashville.