phomopsis in blueberry bushes

brandond(6)July 18, 2012

I have all kinds of problems with my blueberry bushes this year. I have taken some photos of some blueberry bushes with these maroon or brown stem lesions on them. I have confirmed them to be phomopsis. Some of the bushes have specks of maroon and some small lesions on the stem. Do I have to cut the bushes back to the ground this winter or what do I need to do? I have figured out that Im going to have to incorporate a spray program. Some of the small bushes stopped growing all together and have maroon leaves and I have already prunned them back. I have lost maybe 20 bushes this year our of 100. Most if not all were planted this year or last year. I have all varying degrees of plant health some have small lesions on them but look unaffected by the fungus. Some stopped growing and look bad, and some have died. Please help me as I so frustrated. I also learned that the stressed plants combined with 100 degree temps for 2 weeks is not go on them. thanks

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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

I have the same problems with my 2 year old plants. I think that you are right on with your diagnosis. I contacted the grower where I got them, and he said that the wet weather last year was the problem. I contacted our state extension service and he has seen more than usual this year. It was suggested that I cut out the bad limbs and spray with lime sulfur this late fall and again next spring. So, I guess that's what I'll do. Unless someone has another suggestion. I really hate working with lime sulfur. luke

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 1:39PM
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Sorry to hear about your blueberry issues. I have not heard of phomopsis on blueberries. They are usually quite disease resistant. I'm no expert in this disease, but if it was me, and take my advice for what it is, I'd prune all affected branches, even if it means cutting all to the ground. Blueberries will regrow, and cutting to the ground is often recommended for old overgrown blueberries. Downside of course is that harvest will be delayed for a couple of years when it has to regrow from scratch. Once you get rid of all the diseased branches, spray sulphur fungicide prior to rain to avoid reinfection. It may take awhile to recover from this. I'm glad it's not me. In my experience, it's usually not worth trying to save diseased branches of most plants.

If there are experts around familiar with this fungi on blueberries, I'd like to hear from them. There may not be many.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 1:53PM
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SO is the consensus that I prune the plants that have it in a minor way as well. Some of those are 2 to 3 ft tall, and that would mean pruning all their canes, I could see pruning away a cane or two. Most of these bushes have only one single cane. They are just starting new groth down below at the crown. Oh and if so should I go ahead with it now or wait until dormancy.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 2:01PM
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Any diseased canes can spread the disease. You could wait until harvest is done, but after harvest I would definitely cut down all diseased canes, mild or not. One thing about blueberries, is if they are heavily pruned and healthy, they will come back with a vengeance. You'll get lots of new canes next spring that will bear the following year. Just make sure you prevent the next infection rather then trying to deal with it after the fact. Also, make sure you have lots of sawdust, pine bark or pine/spruce cone mulch to help prevent infection from splashback.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 4:54PM
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