During the farm tour, the following was discussed:
- Ken Berg’s method of mummy berry management
- My overview of mummy berry and cultural control methods
- Dr. Jay Pscheidt’s evaluation of commercial products
- Potential funding opportunities to assist with disease management via micro-loans through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)
- The organic initiative through the Oregon Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)
Ken Berg’s method of mummy berry management included the following:
- In late summer, mummies fall onto open ground underneath the blueberry bushes. Blueberry bushes are on flat ground (vs. mounds).
- In late winter, black visqueen is laid down under bushes and on top of overwintering mummies. Two sheets of visqueen are used per row, one on either side of the blueberry bushes (for example: one sheet laying on the east-facing side of the blueberry row, running north to south. and the other sheet laying on the west-facing side, also running north to south).
- The visqueen is held in place with Douglas fir sawdust which is appliedaround the outer edges of the visqueen to hold it down. To hold down the two sheets of visqueen that meet along the crown of the blueberry bush, the visqueen is pulled together, overlapping, and Douglas fir sawdust is applied on top of it. The weight of the Douglas fir sawdust keeps the visqueen in place.
- In early spring when apothecia would be produced, the visqueen covers them and theoretically prevents ascospores from escaping.
Ken Berg claims that this technique has reduced his mummy berry incidence and is cost effective. The visqueen does not need to be replaced every year and costs under $500 for the whole field. Berg’s Certified Organic Blueberries is primarily a U-pick operation, producing blueberries on one acre.
A farm tour attendee discussed his more drastic management technique. This grower has a severe case of mummy berry and pruned back all canes. He skipped a year of harvest, but this year his crop looks incredibly productive and he says there is no sign of mummy berry. However, since the blueberries have only reached the green fruit stage, nothing final can be said about the technique.
This management idea spurred an interesting question amongst the growers- Do mummies only survive for one year? If so, this technique should be viable. I am currently designing an experiment to test just that and should have results next field season!
Organic fungicide highlights:
- Actinovate AG, Regalia, and Serenade Optimum all showed a significantly different % primary infection control when compared to the non-treated bushes.
- Regalia was associated with minor phytotoxicity (some necrosis on blooms and rusetting on fruit)
- Serenade Optimum (7 day intervals) also showed significantly different secondary infection (mummy berry) control when compared to non-treated bushes.
This concludes the list of highlights from the spring farm tour. If you’d like additional information about the microloans or organic initiative, please leave a comment and I’ll add additional information. If you have any ideas for mummy berry control that you’d like to see tested, please tell us about it!
Thank you to all of the farm tour attendees, your input was invaluable!
Our next mummy berry management outreach event will take place in Washington!