Blueberry growers advised to remain alert about recently detected pest

© James Hutton InstituteThe blueberry aphid, Ericaphis scammelli, has been detected during routine aphid surveys by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and is thought to be widespread across Scotland. It is also known to occur in other parts of the United Kingdom and Europe.

The pest can be found more on some cultivars than others with highest infestation levels between May and July.

The aphid is a known vector of Blueberry scorch virus, meaning it can transmit the virus from one plant to another, and although at present there is no record of detection of the virus in Scotland growers are advised to remain alert.

The virus has been detected across Europe and it is likely to spread over large distances and enter new areas with the movement of plants.

Flower clusters turn brown just as petals are opening and young shoots turn greyish black then eventually die. Plants do not recover as more symptoms are expressed each year, resulting in a decline in yield.

The virus causes damage to Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) but the extent of the damage does depend on the cultivar and virus strain.

Cultivars that remain symptomless can still carry the virus and there is often a 1 – 2 year latent period between infection and symptoms being observed.

New plantings of blueberries may not show symptoms immediately so growers should remain vigilant for a few years after the plants have been established.

Article source: James Hutton Institute