Friday, August 24, 2012

Flea beetle damage

Flea beetle damage has been observed on unsprayed blueberry plots at the NCSU Horticultural Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne.  Feeding is mostly on new succulent shoots that have emerged following post-harvest summer pruning (hedging), so these are next year's bearing shoots that need to retain their leaves in order to set flower buds for the 2013 crop. Much of the damage is cosmetic, but where shoots are completely defoliated, or the shoots themselves are eaten, yield will be reduced in 2013.

For more information on insect pests of small fruits, see Hannah Burrack's excellent blog here.

Mummy Berry on 'Brightwell'

Mummy berry disease was widely reported during the 2012 season in North Carolina, including the first really severe outbreak of the fruit infection phase on 'Brightwell' rabbiteye blueberry in the coastal plain.  Usually the primary phase of the mummy berry disease causes severe leaf infections on rabbiteyes, but little or no secondary infection of fruit, at least in the coastal plain (rabbiteye fruit infection is more common in western NC).  NCSU research specialist Benny Bloodworth took these pictures in late June in Bladen County.

Infected berries (at center) turn pinkish-white, shrivel and drop

Abundant mummies on the ground under heavily infected 'Brightwell'
Mummies that fall to the ground are filled with fungal tissue and serve as the overwintering structures for the fungus.  In spring, the infected berries (mummies) on the ground produce a specialized cup mushroom that releases spores, and the disease cycle begins again.  Destroying or burying the mummies helps to reduce disease carryover from one year to the next.