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Help! Blueberry Scorch virus?

Posted by ajsmama 5b (NW CT) (My Page) on
Fri, May 25, 12 at 10:16

We have wild (low and high bush) blueberries, some near the house have always produced well, others have not but it looks like this year will be a bumper crop!

DH wanted to plant some cultivated highbush (he likes the big berries and thought they'd be more consistent producers). We bought 6 plants (2 each Legacy, Patriot and Bluecrop) in April but didn't get them planted right away due to 2" plus rain event the next day. The pots were on the north side of garage but a couple still got soaked. That week we had 3 freezes so I brought them inside the garage, they didn't get planted until a couple weeks later and 1 of the Patriot was looking pretty sorry with some dead shoots and shriveled dry blossoms, though all the plants had some waterlogged blossoms from being out in the rain that one night.

To my surprise they started to fruit, but some of the leaves started turning red. I figured it was stress until I noticed specks of red on the leaves and fruit of the lowbush berries downhill from them. Only on the upper side of leaves. The nursery blueberries had almost entirely red leaves with green veins but still only on the upper surfaces and the fruit doesn't seem to have any specks at all. This is not Mg deficency since the soil was pH 4.2 with Medium ((25 ppm) Mg and we amended the holes and mulched with composted manure pH 5.6 and Medium High (50 ppm) Mg.

It looks like scorch as far as I can tell from this website. But I'm assuming the Conservation District bought their plants from nursery that had virus-tested stock?

How do I tell for sure and what do I do? Looks like you're supposed to destroy plants ($72 down the tubes)? I'll try to take pix later, it's raining now - in fact, May has been somewhat wet (though still 2" under normal) and overcast, could this be a fungal disease instead?

Here is a link that might be useful: MSU Blueberry Virus page


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Help! Blueberry Scorch virus?

Clipped some leaves, dried them off and put them on paper towel for pix

From nursery plants

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

closeups - I think the small clusters of leaves I pulled off the Legacy

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

The shoots I clipped off the Patriot

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

These leaves are from the lowbush plants that we've never had any problems with, they're downhill from the new plants

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App


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RE: Help! Blueberry Scorch virus?

It could just be wet cold weather. That can make bb turn those colors.


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RE: Help! Blueberry Scorch virus?

Hi ajsmama,
What's the temperature been lately?Cold soil can prevent them from processing nutrients they need and leaves will turn color until it warms.
The last pic looks like something else though. Brady


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RE: Help! Blueberry Scorch virus?

Took them to Ag station and they don't know - says it doesn't look like disease. Thought is might be Mg deficiency but said no, Medium should be fine, very rare to have Mg deficient soil here. Might just be transplant stress. Gotta wait til plant expert is in on Tues.

Temps have been around 70 with lows around 60 - a few hot days, but mostly overcast with threat of T-showers though we haven't had any rain except 1/4" Monday and some drizzle today. Was really hot over the weekend but these have afternoon shade.

The thing that's got me concerned is that the lowbush bluberries looked fine til yesterday when I noticed this "rust" on them. never saw that before, even last year which was extremely wet and cold spring. Definitely not transplant stress with those. Fungal infection? They are only 2-3" high and (naturally) mulched with oak leaves.


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RE: Help! Blueberry Scorch virus?

Oh, and the top leaves of the highbush plants look speckled like the lowbush ones, it's the lower leaves that are almost entirely red.

I did find red stems on the clusters of berries on the Legacy, don't know if that's a disease or just the Legacy.

1 green shoot on a Patriot has a red streak but I don't think it's shoestring virus.

Some lower shoots that aren't woody yet on 1 Bluecrop are black (not mushy) and all the Bluecrops and Patriots have some sooty-looking blotches on the young shoots that don't rub off. It has been wet this week, and we "mulched" with composted manure (that was practically loam) so maybe that's the stem issue - will get bark mulch tomorrow. Still don't know what the leaf issue is since it's affecting the upper leaves of the new plants and they're 2ft tall, don't think they've been splashed.


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