rotting blueberries beneath bushes

zenith(7)July 20, 2012

I was told by apple growers that leaving "mummies" on the ground discourages production. I have a friend with TOO MANY blueberries who invited folks to pick who never showed up so that at least 4 gallons of berries are on the ground rotting beneath the bushes. He thinks this will fertilize the plants. While picking yesterday I was getting the feeling that the bushes do not like all the waste, that they PUT OUT and were scorned.

The bushes are protected from birds by netting, so the yields are remarkable.

The other times I have picked here I got any berry that fell to the ground. When I had a good stand of blues, I never let fruit fall and rot.

What are your thoughts and experience with this sort of situation? Is rotting fruit good for the bushes or NOT?


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I try to keep the ground under our blueberry shrubs free of rotten or damaged fruit, but there are always a few down there if you look hard enough. There is a fungal disease, "mummyberry," that is said to be made worse by rotten fruit near the shrub. Our shrubs are mulched with shredded maple tree leaves, from a Norway maple. The leaves decompose over time, and the few stray berries get mixed in and seem to disappear without causing any problem for me.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Well if you think about a BB plant in the wild, if it didn't get picked all the berries would fall off and feed the plant in the next season. Now that we grow BB's by the thousands though there may be something to the whole disease idea. A good question and I'm not sure what the answer is.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 11:04AM
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If you have a fungal or insect problem that's causing the affected berries(or other fruits) to drop, then, by all means, removal of the affected berries/fruits should help interrupt the life cycle for infection of the next crop.
However, if these are just normal, ripe berries that have fallen off during the course of picking, etc.(I try to pick up those that are in good shape - just because they touched the ground doesn't mean they're not still tasty!), they shouldn't be a concern; they're just going to decompose there, not serve as a substrate for mummyberry, brown rot, etc.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:12PM
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If they can't use them all, maybe they should consider removing the netting and let the birds have some. Ground birds would likely clean up the fallen berries, and add some good fertilizer of their own...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 4:57PM
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