Blueberries

blueberries-industryThe Australian Blueberry Growers’ Association represents the biosecurity interests of blueberry growers and the industry.  They are members of Plant Health Australia and are involved in:

  • biosecurity planning and implementation at the national and farm levels
  • liaising with federal and state governments on trade issues
  • funding and supporting biosecurity initiatives.

Industry overview

Blueberries are a native fruit of North America. The species comes under the genus Vaccinium which includes around 450 evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Three varieties of blueberry species have been identified; Highbush, Lowbush (wild) and Rabbiteye. Highbush varieties can be broken down into either Southern Highbush or Northern Highbush. Lowbush blueberries are not generally found in Australia.

Numerous cultivars have been bred from these varieties such as Misty (Southern Highbush), Denise (Northern Highbush) and Powder Blue (Rabbiteye) and they are commonly grown in Australia. These cultivars all have different characteristics, growing requirements and seasonal timing.

Blueberries were first introduced into Australia in the early 1970s. By 1978 it was recognised that the warmer climate Southern Highbush and Rabbiteye varieties (originally grown in the southern states of America) would grow on the NSW North Coast and produce high value, early season fruit. These varieties are harvested from June to February.

The Australian blueberry industry is expanding rapidly. Each year, Australian farmers produce around 4,500 tonnes of blueberries with a farm gate value of $A90 million. Of this 75 per cent is sold fresh within Australia, 15 per cent is exported to Asia and Europe and 10 per cent is processed, mainly as frozen product.

Around 90 per cent of Australia’s blueberry production comes from northern New South Wales. In southern Australia, most of the blueberry production is based in Victoria (mainly in the Yarra Valley) and in Tasmania. The season starts in December and ends in April.

blueberry-production-areas

blueberry-ibp-coverBiosecurity planning provides a mechanism for the blueberry industry, government and other relevant stakeholders to assess current biosecurity practices and future biosecurity needs. Planning identifies procedures that can be put in place to reduce the chance of pests reaching our borders or minimise the impact if a pest incursion occurs.

The Biosecurity Plan for the Blueberry Industry outlines key threats to the industry, risk mitigation plans, identification and categorisation of exotic pests and contingency plans. For a copy, please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email admin@phau.com.au

Exotic pests (not in Australia)

The following is a list of high priority exotic pests of blueberries. These pests were identified during the development of the Biosecurity Plan for the Blueberry Industry in consultation with industry, government and scientists. They have been assessed as high priority pests based on their potential to enter, establish, and spread in Australia (eg environmental factors, host range, vectors) and the cost to industry of control measures.

PHA has a range of fact sheets, contingency plans and diagnostic protocols relevant to these pests. Pest risk review documents are also available for some pests. Please contact PHA on 02 6215 7700 or email admin@phau.com.au for more information.

Endorsed National Diagnostic Protocols are available from the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network webpage.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Blueberry aphid Ericaphis fimbriata
Blueberry leaftier Croesia curvalana
Brown rot Monilinia fructigena 3 FS FS DP
Glassy-winged sharpshooter Homalodisca vitripennis FS FS FS FS FS CP DP
Mummy berry Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi FS
Spotted-winged drosophila Drosophila suzukii FS FS FS FS
Sudden oak death Phytophthora ramorum 1 FS FS CP DP
Xylella fastidiosa Xylella fastidiosa including X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex and pauca 2 FS FS FS FS FS CP DP

Other pests

The following is a list of documents for other exotic and endemic pests of the blueberry industry. Please note that this is not a complete list of pests: rather it includes pests for which documents exist in the Pest Information Document Database.

Some of the documents presented here are not tailored to the blueberry industry and are included for information only.

Common name Scientific name EPPRD Category Fact sheet Contingency plan Diagnostic protocol
Blackline (Cherry leaf roll virus) Cherry leaf roll virus (Nepovirus) (exotic strains) 3
Brown headed leaf roller Ctenopseustis obliquana FS
Brown-marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys FS
Florida flower thrips Frankliniella bispinosa FS
Glassy-winged sharpshooter Homalodisca vitripennis FS FS FS FS FS CP
Gypsy moths Lymantria dispar FS FS FS CP
Peach rosette mosaic virus Peach rosette mosaic virus (Nepovirus)
Phytophthora blight Phytophthora kernoviae
Plum curculio Conotrachelus nenuphar 2 FS FS
Tomato ringspot virus Tomato ringspot virus (Nepovirus) FS