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Scouting for Mummy Berry

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Published on Apr 18, 2013

Tips on identifying and monitoring Mummy Berry disease in blueberries.

Mummy berry is a fungal disease that commonly infects blueberries. It is common in the northwest, mainly due to constant high levels of moisture throughout the year.

The disease begins when the fungus infects new vegetative tissue at bud break, the stage when the scales on the apical flower bud separate and new green tissue emerges. Infection also occurs inside the newly opened flowers themselves. During this stage, the infected plant tissue becomes covered with spores called "conidia," which are believed to be vectored to other flowers by pollinators. If infected flowers are pollinated, they develop into berries and the fungus continues to grow inside. This causes the berry to take on a shriveled, discolored apprearance. This diseased berry is referred to as a mummy.

Mummy berries typically drop to the ground where they remain over the winter, still harboring the fungus. In spring, when the humidity, temperature and light levels are right, a tiny, mushroom-like structure called an apothecia emerges from the overwintered mummies. When the apothecia matures, it releases ascospores that then infect new plant material. The whole cycle then repeats over the course of the new growing season.

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