Emerald Blueberry Help Please !!!!

Jcsherman(10 SoCal)April 21, 2014

My emerald blueberry just dropped over half of its leaves in the last week. It has been doing great the fruit just started to ripen and now leaf loss and some branches are turning brown. Any idea what is is. i have had the bush for a year now and got it from some mail order site. The ph is at least 4.5 the last i checked. Here are some pictures of it. The first 4 pics are taken today and the 5 is taking on the 4/19

This post was edited by Jcsherman on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 22:52

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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

Picture 2

This post was edited by Jcsherman on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 22:42

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:39PM
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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

Picture #3

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

Picture # 4

This post was edited by Jcsherman on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 22:51

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:45PM
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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

Sorry it was on five post, I could not figure how to get all the pictures on one post.

This picture is from 4/19

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The most likely possiblities are stem blight or salt burn. Have you applied a lot of fertilizer lately? Or failed to water enough after fertilizer? Salt burn is a root and leaf issue. The stems should be green until the whole plant dies.

If stem blight the affected stems will be partially or completely dead in cross section when cut off. Scrape some affected branches and see if it's green under the bark.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Mon, Apr 21, 14 at 23:22

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 11:17PM
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Are these new leaves or last year's leaves? Most of my blueberry plants, including 'Emerald', didn't lose their leaves over winter. As a result some leaves are drying up and falling off now. If this is the case, you should be OK as long as you see new healthy growth.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:38AM
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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

The only fertilizer i have used in the last 3 weeks would be miracle grow for acid loving plants. I would have watered fertilized all my bushes the same amount any they look fine. I scraped some of the branches and it does look like there is some light green under the brown parts. But the cross section shows brown on 1/4 of the stem. If it is stem blight what are my treatment options?

Can stem blight transfer between different type of plants? I have two roses about 15 to 20 feet away that are not doing well this year.

The leaves are a combination of this and last years leaves. It did not loose many over the winter, we had such a mild winter this year. It is dropping some young leave to.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 10:30AM
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I have no experience with bb diseases other than what I read, so take this with a grain of salt. With that said, it does appear you have some sort of stem fungal infection. Zooming in on your photos, it looks just like examples in many publications regarding stem blight in bbs. And your comment on 1/4 of the cross section showing brown is typical.

About all you can do now is prune out the infected stems about an inch (20 to 30 cm is the recommendation) below the lowest infection. Application of a a fungicide doesn't seem to have any impact unless it is applied immediately after pruning out infected stems. If the blight works its way down to the trunk, the plant is lost.

Given how systemic the blight is, it would appear that it is secondary to another issue, such as fertilizer burn or water stress over the winter/early spring. Something impacted the plant and gave the fungus a chance to infect and take hold in numerous spots. I think there is a good reason fruitnut offered the two possibilities, not just one. There appears to be symptoms of both visible. The spotty necrosis of some leaves, and the edge burn is not typical blight pattern that causes leaf dieback. Yet there clearly is some blight going on.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 11:23AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Sounds like stem blight given partial browning of stem in cross section.

I've had stem blight on 4-5 plants. It usually runs right down to the crown or possibly begins there. One very large Sweetcrisp has survived a year after cutting out about half the canes as low as possible. The infection was visible on the lowest cuts. The other smaller plants like yours have died in a matter of months.

It's possible it's related to over cropping. Certainly not the case with Sweetcrisp. But at least one other plant was really loaded up with fruit like yours and showed symptoms just as the crop matured.

I now prune or pull off part of the crop on heavy bearers like Emerald. Usually cutting out the small wood that has smaller berries or at least shortening those small shoots. The other possible plus of thinning the crop is sweeter, bigger berries.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 7:02PM
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How old is that plant? Looks to be a two year old? Ive delt with several plants that had blight when they were shipped to me from the nursery. I believe its brought on by heavy fruiting at a young age. Go to any nursery in April and look at there plants to see how many berries are on them. Its all for show and most will probably die of blight with in the first year because most people dont remove any fruit. Not there fault, they just dont know because the nursery would never tell them that and/or they dont do there homework before purchasing. Emerald should have a ton of new leaf growth way before the fruit ever startes to turn blue. I dont see that on your plant. If it is blight you need to cut it back untill you dont see any brown in the cross section. It will set you another season behind but if you want to keep the plant you go to do what you got to do. I dont let my plants fruit for the first season and the second season only a handfull of fruit just to sample. Its not worth loosing them for a small amount of fruit any way in my opinion. Next season you may want to thin the buds to no more than 6 buds per branch. Thats my rule of thumb and I havent ever lost a plant to blight on my watch, at least not yet!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:22PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

It does not look like stem blight to me....one of the key signs of stem blight is flagging. The leaves stay on the stem but are dry, brown and dead. Some varieties are more susceptible to blight than others. I have never seen stem blight on an Emerald.

To me it looks like it dried out which damaged the roots and those damaged roots could no longer take up water and off the leaves go.

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Tue, Apr 22, 14 at 21:15

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 9:03PM
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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

Thank you everyone for you input. I have been a reader of all your post for well over a year now. It is great to have a place to hear first hand experience.

My emerald is about two years old, I got it last April from a mail order website along with a few other varieties. It did produce a lot for a new bush. The leaves are brittle even some of the green ones. As far as producing new leaves. The fruit set long before new leaves came in, which is the case with most of my BB. With the warmer weather in southern California that seems to be how it works. I have had four other bushes for 3 years now.
I have two last question, what I next steps;
1. If it is stem blight then should i got every thing back now including ripening fruit in order to save the bush?
2. If it is fertilizer burn then is there anything I should do other than wait and see what happens.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:34AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


Like I said I am almost certain it is not blight. Here is what blight and the flagging it causes looks like. Notice one limb is brown and dead but the leaves stay on the bush dead for weeks. Rest of the bush looks normal and healthy.

If you still think it is blight go half way down one of the affected limbs and cut it off then look at the end. If it looks like this it is blight and I am wrong and you need to trim the afflicted portions off before it gets to the crown.

Now if it does not look like that we need to look elsewhere for the source.

Too dry can cause that but so can too wet as both cause root death or worse yet phytophthora.

Did the plant dry out recently?

What is the potting mix?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 8:02AM
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Jcsherman, I would keep it watered and move it to a spot with morning sun only. I kept my BB out of the afternoon sun for the first few years as they would fry in our low humidity and blazing sun. In So Cal our partial sun can be more than other folks full sun exposure.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:26AM
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Jcsherman(10 SoCal)

BR I think you are right about it not being stem blight. None of the leaves have stayed on. I took one of the branches and cut it and looked at the cross section it did not look like your picture. It had a layer of brown around the edge where the bark had turned color but was still greenish on the inside. All of the branches that are brown are small in diameter so it is hard to see any discoloration.

The soil medium is 5 parts pine park, 1.5 parts perlite and 1 part peat moss. It is on a drip sprayer that waters it for 1 minute twice a day. It is possible with the warm days we had and the overload of fruit it was to much. To my knowledge it never fully dried out. I think the last time I fertilized it was three weeks ago but it did not get anymore than my other 10 bushes.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 8:29PM
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