Blueberry pies and cobbler are summertime treats. Blueberries are ready for harvest during early summer, but before they are ready to be picked, the bushes must spend months being watched and protected from a variety of diseases. From the stem to the leaves to the roots, no part of the plant is immune from disease and growers should be aware of common signs and symptoms that could plague the plant.
Blueberry plant diseases are significant to the growth of the plant because they cause smaller plants, smaller berries and, sometimes, no berries at all. If a disease is not properly treated, it could possibly kill the plant.
Bacterial diseases, such as crown gall, causes cankers on the flowers, leaves and branches. Fungal diseases, such as mold, can cause spots on the leaves and can coat the flowers and berries with a white layer of mildew. Viral diseases, such as shoestring virus, cause the berries to turn reddish-purple instead of blue.
Growers should frequently check blueberry bushes for any signs of leaf spots or lesions. If blueberries are considerably smaller than usual or discolored, it could also indicate an infection in the bush. Stunted growth or wilted plants are also an identification factor in root disease.
Blueberries grow best in well-drained, acidic soil and in full sun. By testing the pH levels for acidity as well as adding sulfur and fertilizer, blueberry bushes should have the nutrients that will allow them to fight off most diseases. Regular pruning of the bushes will help to prevent diseases from attacking the plant. Mulch should be added to the ground surrounding the bushes in effort to help retain the moisture and to prevent weeds from depriving the bushes of the proper nutrients required for a healthy plant.
To solve the problem of spreading diseases, the infected branches should be removed and burned. Bushes that are beyond treatment should be removed from the soil and burned.