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Friday, December 3, 2010 - 8:57am

Diseases Hit Blueberries

Some blueberries in South Georgia are at risk of getting two new diseases. Ring Blotch and Leaf Scorch are becoming more prominent in Southern High Bush varieties. It is the most profitable fruit in Georgia and blueberry farmers worried these diseases could ruin their crops.

Phil Brannen, a UGA biologist says blueberries can recover but it will be costly to farmers.

“The Southern High Bush market is roughly 30% of our total sales. 2009 sales was over $100 million so you’re taking off a pretty good potential of those sales because of death of plants then you’re certainly in the millions of dollars that have been lost.”

Brannen says there is nothing farmers can do to prevent the damage besides planting different varieties. Researchers plan to breed a new, more resistant blueberry but it could take several years.