The Q&A Archives: Blueberries Shrinking And Wilting

Question: I have 2 cultivated blueberry bushes that have done well for several years. However this year after what seemed to be a very healthy initial growing period ( thick and healthy foilage and numerous flowers which has led to a large crop of fruit) the berries seem to be drying and shrinking in size. The foilage on the plants still looks very healthy, just the fruit seems to be affected. The plants have had plenty of water and I have fed them the same fertilizer as in previous years. I am puzzled about the problem since the plants seem to have started off the growing season so healthy. Any advise you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

Answer: There's an insect pest called cherry fruitworm that burrows into the berries near the stem, causing the berries to shrivel up. Examine the shrivelled berries carefully, looking for the small holes and/or fine webbing that will indicate the presence of this fruitworm.

Since the worm burrows, it's difficult to control once it's established. The adults are gray moths with black spots, and they lay their eggs on the berries in mid-July. Since you have only two bushes, you can try inspecting the plants daily, destroying any affected berries. Be sure to clean up around the plants in the fall, and keep the plants mulched, to help deter overwintering.

Good luck.

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