Blueberry stunt disease is caused by phytoplasmas carried around by sharp-nosed leafhoppers. Phytoplasmas are cell parasites.
Symptoms of blueberry stunt
It should come as no surprise that stunting is the most common symptom of this disease. Closer inspection shows that infected stems have much smaller internodes [spaces between nodes] than healthy stems, which makes the plants look smaller than normal. Leaves may be cupped slightly downward and chlorotic leaf margins may be present.
Blueberry stunt disease cycle
As carrier sharp-nosed leafhoppers feed on blueberry plants, they allow stunt phytoplasmas to move from their host’s gut to your plants. Once inside a plant, these tiny beasties move to the sapwood, where they feed on sap, live, and reproduce.
Blueberry stunt control
Starting with certified disease-free rootstock is one way to reduce the odds of bringing blueberry stunt disease into your garden. Also, use yellow sticky sheets to monitor for signs of sharp-nosed leafhoppers and start treatments as soon as they are seen. Once a plant is infected with blueberry stunt disease, it must be removed and destroyed.
Luckily, so far anyway, blueberry stunt is only found on the East Coast. For now.
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