Battling Blueberry Diseases

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Predictive systems and preventing new diseases in blueberries were topics Phil Brannen addressed at the 2018 Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Ga., in January. Brannen is a professor and Extension plant pathologist at the University of Georgia.

Predictive systems can benefit growers by letting them know when their disease risks are highest and lowest. Brannen said a University of Florida researcher, Natalia Peres, has created a predictive system for strawberries and is testing one for blueberries. He said predictive systems for botrytis and anthracnose would help growers cut back on spray programs.

“We can probably cut out, in some years, maybe seven or eight applications of fungicides,” he said. “That’s a pretty significant savings, and with the margins being a little bit tighter on blueberries than they used to be, we need to start thinking about that, because … we can’t afford wasted applications.”

Click here to visit the website for the test for the blueberry predictive system.

To prevent new diseases in the fields, Brannen said knowing where the plants are coming from is key. He said it is also beneficial if growers are able to get their plants from a source that virus tests them.

He said he does not expect any big changes with disease for 2018. “I think that we’ll just have to make sure we stay on our spray program and hopefully it will all be good,” he said.

Brannen’s presentation was titled “The Current Status of Disease Management Challenges for the Southeastern Blueberry Industry.”

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