Mummy berry caused by Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi is a fungal disease of major importance in the northern and southern highbush blueberry regions, where it causes considerable damage to the fruit. In addition, severe blighting of the leaves, shoots, and flower buds of rabbiteye cultivars Delite, Southland, Premier and Tifblue has occurred in North Carolina plantings.
- Blueberry fruit infected with the mummy berry fungus.
- Cup-shaped apothecia are fruiting bodies of the fungus.
- Close-up of primary infection stage.
- Blueberry stem with severe damage from primary infection stage.
Fungicidal control, especially the use of triforine (Funginex) has proven very successful. Benomyl (Benlate) is also used in bloom to prevent secondary infection. Consult product labels or the blueberry spray schedule in the NC Ag Chem Manual for specifics.
Sanitation was the traditional means of controlling this disease for many years. Growers hand-raked fields to remove overwintering sclerotia (mummies). While raking is no longer practical on a large commercial scale, growers can still reduce disease by disking to bury sclerotia and by clean cultivation. Burying mummies at depths of one inch or more will help to prevent germination.
Resistance All highbush cultivars appear to be susceptible to the mummy berry phase to some degree. Some of the most resistant cultivars are among the newly released southern highbush types (Bladen, Reveille). Note that the fruit infection stage of mummy berry has not been observed to occur on rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) in NC. This means that growers in the piedmont of NC may be able to avoid mummy berry by planting only this species, as they typically do. Rabbiteye blueberries DO get fruit infections in Georgia and Mississippi, perhaps indicating the existence of another species or race of the mummy berry fungus in those areas.