Blackberry and blueberry bush diseases?

ilovecucumbersJuly 4, 2014

Hi there,

First, there's been tons of rain here in past few days.

On the blackberry leaf: pest or fungus? See also the dead leaves on blackberry branch. Otherwise, the bush is as vibrant as ever. But I'd like to treat this fast, depending on what it is.

Blueberry bushes are new--put in this April. They are bearing, but parts of them are dying, it looks like. What's with the aged-looking bark? What do these bushes need? They are mulched with a high-grade brown landscape mulch, but were planted by a guy who grew up on a farm and is into organic gardening, so I trusted him.

If anyone can tell me what may be going on with either the blackberry or blueberry bushes, I'd be grateful.

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The dead leaves on the blackberry bush

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:27AM
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Dead and dying blueberry branches

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:29AM
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More dead/dying blueberry branches, on another bush

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:30AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

I see no obvious problems with your blueberries. The leaves that are visible look reasonably healthy, as do the canes themselves. Did the branches that concern you ever leaf out? If not, then the bushes are probably just balancing the top growth with what the roots can support at this point. The added stress of allowing them to fruit the first year after planting might also be limiting growth. How are you fertilizing them? Is the soil pH where it should be (under 5.5 or so)? Also, although it sounds like they have plenty of water right now, be sure to be very attentive to water through the summer. Blueberries need consistently moist (but not waterlogged) soil in order to thrive, especially when they're first getting established.

This post was edited by shazaam on Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 13:20

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:12PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Blueberries have rapid turnover of shoots. Some are always dying. Feed enough and they'll grow back twice more. Yours look short on fertilizer, mainly nitrogen. Feed them regularly with fert for acid loving plants. If you do they'll be green and lush with shoots and leaves rather than those open areas and dying shoots.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:20PM
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In photo order:
1. bird turd
2. fluorocane post harvest
3&4. using an acid fertilizer?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:49PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Delete, double post??

This post was edited by fruitnut on Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 16:16

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 4:12PM
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Seriously, I stressed over a bird turd?

I have 4 other blueberry bushes, which I fertilize in the spring and fall. They're small, but good producers. I didn't think I needed to fertilize the new bushes, but I forgot that I should not have let them fruit.

I just did some research, and the University of Maine extension service says in year 1, to use 10-10-10 or ammonium sulfate. I will fertilize them tomorrow, and many thanks.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 6:08PM
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That blackberry cane is quite small for a floricane post harvest. I'm not saying it diseased but it looks like the result of Verticillium Wilt. If it is, there's not much you can do about it anyway.

In your last photo of your blueberry, that bottom stem has bands of discoloration. Could again be a soil-based problem.

Hardwood mulch has its uses but I stopped using it because if you have an extended period of wet weather, it will keep your soil too moist and create the conditions for soil-based diseases like verticillium wilt and phytophthora root rot. If your soil is clay then you can expect this to happen. If you have lighter soils that drain well, you might be OK.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:11PM
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You should have seen how small this blackberry bush was just a few months ago. Just the same, I'll keep an eye on it...I hope you're wrong.

Re the blueberries--beneath the mulch, the soil is good loam. We're thinking of pine straw for next year. There's a lot of mulch to get rid of, though.

Would it help to move the mulch away from the base of the plant? If so, how far away?

As with so many other things it's watch and wait...and I am going to fertilize, cautiously, to see if that improves things.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:42PM
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