Wylewood and bob gordon elder berry not ripening

hey folks. i have 5 bob gordon/ wylewood elderberries i planted 4 yrs. ago. been flowering for 3 of those years and i get very few fruit and it doesn’t ripen before frosts kill the plant. at 1st. i thought the plants were just too young. now I’m starting to worry. this year the plants put out probably 2 doz. huge clusters of flowers. there are some green berries now but maybe half of the flowers bore fruit. our killing frost is 3 weeks away so it looks like no elderberries again. everywhere I’ve read says these 2 cultivars are zone 3 or zone 4 which is in my area. they get great sunlight and lots of water. in comparison, my 2 S. nigra in 2nd leaf had a few flowers for the 1st. time and flowered earlier and all flowers produced fruit! S. nigra supposed to be less cold tolerant and only produces on 2nd year canes. i have some no name S. canadeis i planted on a friends property that produced a crop in the 1st year. any ideas on why these don’t produce?

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So they are blooming and setting fruit but not ripening? Do they bloom at the same time as your S. Canadiensis?

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Consider that the missing half of the berries were eaten by birds.
Not sure about the ripening time

they bloom after both my other elders but not long after. yes they bloom profusely but only half or less of the berries develop. don’t see any birds around them and they’re green right now so i doubt the birds would touch them anyways. I’m pretty dumbfounded. the flower clusters were so big they were bending the whole cyme down. thought maybe it was a pollinator issue but plenty of bumbles and masons around. there dozens in my everbearing raspberries right now. I’m finding that a lot of nurseries are giving false zone hardiness for their plants. but i looked into 4 different nurseries and they all said either z 3 or 4. they’re so big and healthy, i don’t want to have to dig them out.

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Hmm, weird.
Zones technically just refer to winter hardiness, not summer length or temperature, though many people do use it for general climate. Your summer might not be long and hot enough to ripen them. I’d be glad to loan you about ten degrees!
Would you be able to warm up their microclimate by putting dark stones or something around the plants?

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i don’t know how i could improve on where they are. they get at least 10 hrs.of direct sunlight. they are protected from the n west winds by my big spruces. they are in about the best spot on my property. my goumi bushes are supposed to be marginally hardy to z 4 are right next to them and haven’t had any dieback and produced a great crop this year. so its already almost a z 5 microclimate there. i may need to cut them and replace with some of my maine native elderberries. they don’t produce as well as these cultivars supposed to, but at least they produce!

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I’m getting some ripening but its not even and there is ripened mixed with unripened on the same cyme . impossible to pick them like this. I’m wondering if i have nutrient deficiencies causing this? i only give them a few shovelfuls of compost in spring. maybe i need to feed them more come mid summer? wish i could do pics. id show you guys my bushes. we’ve had a warmer than average sept this year so i think they would have plenty of time to ripen . bushes looked good other wise. I’m thinking its lack of nutrients. going to keep them one more year and try feeding them mid summer to see if that produces a ripening crop. otherwise out they come next fall!

Once more mature they may flower and fruit earlier? I don’t know? I only grow the euros which are working very well.

hey Drew. they’re in 4th leaf and have been setting fruit for 3 yrs. this year i have tons of big cymes but the fruit doesn’t ripen. this year some ripen but is so uneven i can’t harvest. my black lace S. nigras are 2nd leaf and set a small crop that ripened in aug. i did give them more fertilizer than i did the other ones. gonna give it 1 more season with more compost and see if they come out better. they’re so vigorous id hate to remove them. which S.nirgra cultivar you growing?

Samdal and Samyl. I cut them back every year to keep them small and they produce like crazy.
No canes survive past three years, I remove them.

really? and they give you a good crop anyway? I’m planning of pruning out the 3-4 yr canes next spring.

They act more like blackberries, giving fruit on 2nd year wood. I usually remove the 2nd year wood after fruiting, unless the first year wood was slow to grow. Some years it grows faster or slower, so leave it a third year when new wood is scarce. Each cane produces about 12-15 flower heads…Each plant has about 3 canes, and I have 3 plants, so 36-45 flower heads, Plenty for me.

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i wonder if the same is true for american elder? i have about 20 canes per plant right now. il cut them back to this years canes and see what happens next spring.

The "Sam"cultivars were developed for this purpose. So I don’t know?


Sir, what was you experience with Wyldewood and Bob Gordon? There are a number of web sites that suggest that they pollinate each other. I am getting a bit worried because my BG is in full bloom with some of the sprays of flowers not in decline while the wyldewood sprays have yet to open.