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Blueberry Scorch Virus in Washington and Oregon: What does this mean?

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Tom Walters, Walters AG Research
Jason Myer & Julie Pond, Northwest Berry Foundation

Blueberry Scorch virus is not as rare in Washington and Oregon as previously thought. It has been found in most WA and OR production areas west of the Cascades. In some fields with “recurring shock” symptoms, the symptomatic plants are infected with Blueberry Scorch Virus (BlScV). As the rate of infection increases, the virus can spread very rapidly within a field, to devastating effect.

At the same time, many of the plants with “recurring shock” symptoms tested in Washington were not positive for BlScV. There may be some false negatives due to testing limitations, but it seems likely that some “recurring shock” symptoms are unrelated to BlScV. 

It’s time to take the advice given to BC growers for dealing with BlScV:

  • Monitor for virus symptoms.
  • Test plants with symptoms.
  • Remove bushes testing positive for BlScV.
  • Control aphids (season-long).

To our knowledge BlScV has not been reported in WA or OR east of the Cascades. However, there is no reason to think the virus will not become a problem there. Many blueberry plantings east of the Cascades are managed organically, and have abundant aphid populations capable of spreading BlScV. 

Here is a recent Small Fruit Update Special Edition on this topic to give you background on what’s going on, monitoring and testing efforts, and potential management options while research is being conducted region wide to hone in on answering the remaining questions that are on everyone’s mind. Feel free to let us know what questions you might have.

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