Blueberry stunt disease comes to your garden through sharp-nosed leafhoppers infected with a phytoplasma. 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 infected stems have much smaller internodes [spaces between nodes] than healthy stems, making infected plants look smaller than their healthy neighbors. Leaves may cup 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. Start treatments as soon as these pests appear. Once infected with blueberry stunt disease, the plant must be removed and destroyed.
So far, blueberry stunt disease only occurs on the East Coast. For now, anyway.
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