The blueberry industry in Georgia is expected to grow to more than $90 million by 2014. Returns of up to $18,000/acre have been realized with the earlier maturing southern highbush blueberry cultivars.
Xylella fastidiosa, bacterial leaf scorch of blueberry, was initially observed ca. 2004. X. fastidiosa has numerous strains which vary from asymptomatic to highly virulent pathogens that can debilitate or kill host plants in as few as three growing seasons. In other host plants X. fastidiosa has always been shown to be insect-vectored, in most cases by select leafhopper species. Currently, information is lacking on X. fastidiosa epidemiology in Georgia blueberries.
The blueberry team will work to identify the species composition and seasonal distribution of leafhopper species feeding on blueberries in order to better define X. fastidiosa transmission throughout the growing season. This will impact grower management strategies for the coming growing season. As leafhopper population dynamics and X. fastidiosa transmission become better understood, targeted management strategies will be refined, reducing the number of required insecticide applications. Ultimately refined management strategies for leafhoppers and X. fastidiosa will be included in an overall pest management strategic plan for blueberries. Improving management of these pests will improve profitability for the producer and reduce health and environmental risks by reducing the number of insecticide applications.
For more information on blueberry management, please visit the UGA Extension Blueberry website.
*Data shown is previous 30 days from the present date.