Blueberry Wilt

On a recent walk to the park, I noticed several blueberry bushes that had dead flowers and dying leaves at the end of the new growth. At first I thought they were related, but then I realized the flowers were just in the process of drying up and falling off post-pollination. The wilting leaves on the new growth is apparently a relatively common occurrence around Sitka, but one explanation I’ve heard is that it’s caused by a fungus. As far as I know, it doesn’t kill the plants. I don’t know if it reduces the berry production.

Questions I now realize I don’t know the answer to:

  • What causes the wilt?
  • Why does it seem to be concentrated in the leaves growing off new stem growth (or did I just fail to notice it elsewhere)?
  • How would you go about isolating the cause?
  • Does it occur on the same shrub year after year?
  • Does it prevent (or maybe just signal) no additional new stem growth for that plant?

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