Sunday, December 31, 2023

Blueberry Phytophthora: Causes, Symptoms, Control

Phytophthora root rot, the most widespread affliction impacting blueberries, can lead to significant dieback and often culminates in the demise of the plants. This soilborne disease is primarily triggered by the oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomi and negatively affects the roots of blueberry plants.

The Phytophthora pathogen is a microorganism that invades plants, infiltrating trees and plants through root contamination. Its transmission occurs readily between plants, facilitated by water irrigation, gardening tools, and human activities. Demonstrating a wide host range, this fungus-like organism infects various tree and shrub species, including other ericaceous plants like rhododendron and madrone, as well as numerous conifers.

Impacted blueberry plants typically manifest symptoms reminiscent of drought stress, with leaves exhibiting wilting and discoloration, spanning from dull green to yellow, or occasionally red or purplish hues. The advent of warmer weather often accelerates the wilting process, leading to swift plant deterioration. The disease is exacerbated by wet, poorly-drained soil, as the shallow roots of blueberries, which thrive in moist conditions, become vulnerable to the pathogen in excessively wet environments.

Infected plants show signs of wilting and apparent nutrient deficiencies, indicative of compromised root functionality. The pathogen's destructive progression entails upward growth from the roots through the root crown, reaching the lower trunk. In this process, the inner bark succumbs, resulting in browning of the outer layer of sapwood and ultimately contributing to the demise of the affected plants.
Blueberry Phytophthora: Causes, Symptoms, Control

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