Our blueberry bushes are infected with witches' broom.
For the past couple of years, I've noticed an abnormal "growth" on some of our domestic blueberry bushes.
I may not be the sharpest tack in the box when it comes to searching out info via the Internet, but for the longest time I could not find anything that would explain what it was that was increasingly affecting our bushes.
Then finally last fall I stumbled across pictures of witches' broom, a rarely found fungal disease that has a serious effect on the production of berries and the blueberry bushes themselves. Then I knew for sure what we were dealing with.
Above is a picture of one of our bushes as it appeared after the snow melted this spring.
The fungus supposedly comes from the balsam fir trees of which we have many in our surrounding woods. The wind transports the spores from the fir trees to the blueberry bushes. The infected blueberry plants then produce basidiospores in the spring, which are carried back to the fir trees. It's a never-ending cycle.
In the past, I had been cutting off the fungus growth, the witches' broom, on our bushes but now realize one should remove the entire branch the fungus grows on. This enables other branches to possibly escape infection. But if the fungus has reached the crown of the bush and you see the witches' broom growing from the crown (up from the ground around the base of the bush), the whole plant should be removed completely.
There are no effective fungicides for the management of this disease.
What to do as a defense? I don't know. Removing all balsam fir trees within 1,200 feet of the bushes is advised. Not possible in our location.
I've found that a few of our bushes have to be removed. As to whether the rest of them will continue to produce berries for us for any length of time, we'll just have to wait it out and see.
Depressing, sure, but we're small-time home growers and grow the berries for our own personal use. I know of a blueberry farm up in Canada not too far from here and one about a hundred-plus miles south of us. Their blueberry bushes are a cash crop for them, and I'd hate to think what would happen if they had to battle this fungus.
5 hours ago