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Use of Sulforix or Lime Sulfur on Sites with No History of Exobasidium Leaf and Fruit Spot

I have recently had a few questions relative use of Sulforix on sites with no history of Exobasium leaf and fruit spot.   For the most part, if your blueberries have never shown Exobasidium symptoms before, it might be overkill to apply Sulforix.  We think the disease builds up over a period of 2-3 years, so I would hope that one would have some indication of initial infections before the disease causes significant damage.  However, we really do not have good epidemiological information for this disease, which is cause for concern.  I talked to a blueberry producer last evening, and he indicated that he never saw this disease at all in his blueberries in 2013, but he had severe Exobasidium fruit incidence in 2014 — severe enough that he did not even harvest any of his ‘Premiere’ variety.   This information comes from a good producer I have known for some time, so I respect this information.  ‘Premiere’ and ‘Tifblue’ are particularly susceptible to Exobasidium, so it might be a good idea to use Sulforix as an insurance policy on these varieties and possibly some others.  I wish I had a firm answer on this question, but this might fall into the old Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry) category relative the answer:  “Do you feel lucky?”  For the younger folks, look it up on YouTube.

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About Phil Brannen

Phil Brannen is a Professor in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management, where he also received an M.S. in Plant Pathology, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Auburn University. He has extensive experience with disease management programs in numerous cropping systems. He serves as the extension fruit pathologist for Georgia – conducting research and technology transfer for multiple fruit commodities. His blueberry efforts are directed towards developing IPM practices to solve disease issues and technology transfer of disease-management methods to commercial blueberry producers. He also teaches the graduate level Field Pathology Course, team-teaches the IPM Course, coordinates the Viticulture and Enology in the Mediterranean Region Course (Cortona, Italy), and guest lectures in numerous other courses throughout the year.