Organic Small Fruit Disease Management Guidelines: Integrated Management of Blueberry Diseases

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In relation to disease control, blueberries have the greatest potential for organic production. The lack of wild relatives of blueberry in much of the Midwest provides a degree of isolation from some of the more damaging diseases. In addition, blueberry plantings in states like Ohio are often scattered and somewhat isolated. Several commercial plantings in Ohio that are 15 to 20 years old have never received a fungicide application, yet have been very productive. However, if diseases such as mummy berry and anthracnose are introduced into the planting, they can be very destructive. For the most destructive blueberry diseases, organic fungicides are of little value once the diseases are established in the planting.
As with all crops, the development and use of an integrated disease management program will be essential to the organic production of blueberries. The objective of an integrated disease management program is to provide a commercially acceptable level of disease control on a consistent (year-to-year) basis. This is accomplished by developing a program that integrates all available control methods into one program. An effective disease management program for blueberries must emphasize the integrated use of specific cultural practices, knowledge of the pathogen and disease biology, disease resistant cultivars and timely applications of organically approved fungicides or biological control agents, when needed. In order to reduce the use of fungicides to an absolute minimum, the use of disease resistant cultivars and various cultural practices must be strongly emphasized.

Mike A. Ellis
Mizuho Nita
Ohio State University Extension