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Cornell Fruit Resources: Berries

Resources for Commercial Berry Growers

Peak Blueberry Season: July 29 update

Here in WNY, we’ve been getting nice regular shots of rain, with plenty of heat and sun. Berry crops are ripening quickly, with raspberries mostly finished in some locations. Blueberry picking started 2-3 weeks ago (or more) across the region, and growers are reporting record crowds and strong retail/wholesale interest.

Pest/disease concerns: Spotted-wing drosophila (SWD) is the major concern, with sustained catches in traps and larvae showing up in fruit as well. These warm, humid conditions are maximizing population growth, and frequent rains may be reducing residual efficacy of insecticides, requiring more frequent applications to maintain control.

showing disease symptoms
Anthracnose infection on blueberry fruit.

There are still many weeks to go for blueberries (particularly if you have late varieties) – don’t let this pest get away from you!

Also in blueberries, I’m seeing more than normal amounts of mummyberry, possibly due to greater susceptibility after the spring freezes. There is nothing to be done now, but make a note to take action against it in the winter and spring. Fruit anthracnose is also showing up more now, with perfect warm and humid conditions.

Again, it is too late to do anything effective now, but be sure to get timely sprays on next spring. I’m also finding scale (an insect pest) on blueberries – look for small, slightly raised, whitish specks on the backs of berries. This is not to be confused

showing disease symptoms
Exobasidium disease causes these spots on berries that don’t ripen.

with exobasidium, a disease that causes the berries not to ripen fully on the back, which I’m seeing less often, but is still present.

With the warm temperatures and dry spells, as rain events are not evenly distributed, some farms are seeing drought stress. Irrigation is critical for optimal yields and plant health. Initial symptoms are wilting of vegetative shoots and leaves, especially through the afternoon and during windy conditions. Prolonged drought stress will cause tissue damage and death. This will develop from the leaf edges, moving inward. Don’t confuse this with shoot blight, or root diseases, where the whole shoot or cane rapidly dies and turns brown. If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, please reach out to Esther Kibbe (me) or Laura McDermott in Eastern NY for further discussion.

Don’t forget to take your leaf samples and send them in to the lab for nutrition analysis. We recommend using DairyOne at Cornell, since they use the Cornell developed fertilizer recommendations, but there are many labs that can do a good job. Plants of different varieties and ages should have separate samples taken, as they may utilize nutrients differently. You can download the Dairy One submission form here.


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