Well, I had a bumper crop of gooseberries coming in this year—but have encountered a new (to me) problem that is going to severely decrease it. Gooseberries are turning soft and cloudy tan, then dropping before they can ripen. Here is the appearance of the affected berries:
I first noticed this issue a couple of weeks ago—on canes that were touching the mulch. This makes me suspect that the bales of straw I mulched with were infected with something. I’ve also speculated that it might have had something to do with our recent heat wave—several days of temperatures in the 90+ F range.
The worst affected are Hinnomaki Red, Red George and Amish Red—may lose a majority of berries on those. Pixwell has some infected berries, too, mostly on lower branches. Could this be a straw-borne pathogen or chemical? A result of the heat? Some combination thereof? Or something else altogether?
Suggestions are much appreciated.
Have you literally inspected the fruit interior? Sometimes the initial insect entry hole can heal over and is not obvious.
Great suggestion. Thanks! I did look inside—but no signs of insects.
One revision: I did examine a Hinnomaki Red bush in a different location—one that did not receive the same mulch and which gets a little afternoon shade—and found that it had a very few of these affected berries, too. I’m starting to think these were just “cooked” by the terrible heat. Even the odor and flavor (yech!) of the affected berries are more reminiscent of something half-cooked than something diseased or rotten. The gooseberries were fine last year, but the weather has been unusually torrid recently. My most affected were in my full-sun bed.
Probably just one of the risks of growing gooseberries—or anything really—in an unpredictable climate. Pity, too—flavor seems to be improving on many of the cultivars, and sugar content is noticeably higher this season. I’ll have to try to salvage what I can—and hope for a better season next year.
Just saw someone post this very question on another forum. Members agreed, if no maggots or insects then almost definitely overheated.
Thanks, everybody! The heat does indeed seem to be the issue. Found some similar sunburn/cooking on some Double Gold floricane raspberries this evening. The gooseberry plants themselves are holding up surprisingly well, but this unseasonable heatwave has been too much for many of their berries. Pink currant berries seem to be holding up better than the gooseberries; though a few of the former raisined up, they’re still edible.
I have never seen before & don’t know.
However, most straw is from wheat & 90% of our nation’s wheat is roundup ready, which means massive amounts of roundup!!!