Control of vectors, like aphids and leafhoppers, and sanitation of pruning and propagating materials are important steps in controlling viral diseases. Once a plant is infected, diagnosing it and culling it from the field is critical to prevent the virus from spreading.
Symptoms appear as red discoloration in the mid-vein of a leaf, which then develops abnormally into wavy, distorted, or crescent shapes. Other than buying disease-free plants, destroying wild plants near the planting, and removing diseased plants, control does not exist. Some cultivars possess genetic resistance or tolerance.
With this disease, plants lose vigor and become yellowish and dwarfed. The yellow-tipped leaves remain small, rounded, and often puckered. The only known carrier is the sharp-nosed leafhopper, though other vectors probably exist. Diseased bushes cannot be cured. They must be removed from the field as soon as they are diagnosed. Agitation of the bush during removal will dislodge the leafhoppers, causing them to move to a neighboring healthy bush.
This virus causes severe dieback, blossom blighting, and significant yield reduction on susceptible varieties, eventually killing its host. First, the flowers turn brown and fade to a greyish color before they fall off, though with the West Coast strain of the virus, the dried flowers can be retained on the bush for more than a year. Production drops off and the plants do not recover. The virus is spread by aphids or by planting infected stock. The first line of defense is to plant virusfree stock obtained from a nursery that undergoes regular virus testing. Otherwise, remove infected plants when symptoms appear and after the disease has been diagnosed by testing. Also, control aphids in the blueberry field. Replant with virus-free stock. Most University Extension Service State offices have a disease diagnostic service for plant samples.
Bacterial Crown Gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens)
The crown gall bacterium does not grow well in an acidic environment, so this disease is uncommon where soil pH is maintained in the optimum range for blueberries.
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