Answer: Based on your description I would suspect a disease problem, possibly exacerbated by poor soil drainage conditions and of course the stress from the drought while the plants were trying to become established. You might want to take a sample to your county extension (285-4630) for a more specific diagnosis and suggested remedies. In the meantime, pick up and remove any fallen leaves or stems and put them in the trash to try to reduce the reinfection rate. You might also want to run some basic soil tests and see if your soil is naturally acid enough for these plants, or how much soil amendment is needed to accommodate them. In addition to an acid soil, they also need to have a humusy soil that is evenly moist and yet well drained. Your county extension can help you with the tests and interpreting the results, as well.
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