[NAFEX] New Blueberry Viruses

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Wed Jul 22 17:28:10 EDT 2009

Exotic Viruses Hit Michigan Blueberries

July 21, 2009
According to Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), two viruses — 
blueberry shock and blueberry scorch — were found through routine 
surveys conducted by MDA and Michigan State University plant 
Both viruses have been known to occur in certain West Coast and 
mid-Atlantic states, causing significant losses. This is the first time 
they have been discovered in Michigan. According to a news release from 
MDA, there are no known cures for either disease.
Blueberry shock causes infected plants to suffer from loss of foliage 
and blossoms, resulting in yield loss the first year of infection. It 
is possible for fruit production to resume the next year, but experts 
believe the disease could be more severe in the northern climate. 
Infected plants serve as sources of infection to nearby plants, as 
well, since blueberry shock is transmitted primarily through 
pollinating insects.
Blueberry scorch symptoms are similar to shock. In the spring, shoot 
tips die back, sometimes on only a few branches. The flowers may blight 
just as the earliest blossoms open. Infected plants repeat the symptom 
cycle each spring. The whole bush will become infected within three 
years, and fruit production and shoot growth are seriously reduced. The 
virus is transmitted by aphids.
MDA is working with MSU blueberry experts to develop a response plan. 
The initial action will include eradication of the infected plants and 
monitoring of nearby blueberry plantings to assure the disease has been 
eliminated. A meeting with blueberry growers is planned for September 
to review findings from the surveys, and to discuss means of 
safeguarding the industry.
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