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M.K. Ehlenfeldt, A.W. Stretch, and J.S. Lehman

Shoot growth of six blight-resistant highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivars and of one susceptible cultivar was manipulated during the primary infection period of mummy berry disease to determine if some portion of the observed resistance was based on disease avoidance. In experiments across 2 years, resistant cultivars either increased continually in susceptibility or exhibited a peak and then decreased in susceptibility as shoots elongated. In a larger experiment that included both susceptible and resistant cultivars, peaks of susceptibility were identified for `Bluejay', `Darrow', and `Jersey'. In contrast, general decreases in susceptibility were identified for `Duke', `Blueray', and `Croatan' as shoots elongated. Shoot lengths associated with peak susceptibility varied among and within cultivars across experiments. The increases in susceptibility observed at longer shoot lengths were generally small. This finding suggests that cultivars identified as resistant have intrinsic levels of resistance, but maturity and general condition of the plant tissue can also affect disease levels.

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Chad E. Finn and John R. Clark