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Oregon blueberry farmers fight off "mummy berries"

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oregon blueberry farmers are fighting off a rapidly-spreading fungus which causes "mummy berries."

Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi, aided by vinegar fruit flies, is wiping out entire crops.

 

And because the mummy berry is particularly adept at not just surviving winter but shooting millions of spores that are carried by the winds from one field to the next, every bad year could mean the next one is worse, if the fungus isn’t properly controlled.
Berries attacked by the fungus are called mummies because they look like mummified berries: dried, shriveled and gray/white, instead of plump, juicy and blue. The fungus is discovered only at the same time blueberries are nearly ready to harvest, and they look like what they are — duds, ugly useless fruit. It’s after they drop to the ground that the mummy berry threatens to do the most damage to future crops.
At that point, the mummies act more like zombies. They “over­winter,” lying peacefully in the mud, often obscured by leaves, and come spring, sprout tiny mushroom-like structures with small cups on the end, called apothecia.

Read more at The Register-Guard.

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