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 Dying Blueberry Bushes 
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Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:08 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Portland OR
Post Dying Blueberry Bushes
I have about 50 blueberry bushes ages from about 5-15 years--all of which are in various stages of extreme distress. Some have died. Would appreciate any ideas as to what the cause of their maolaise is.

Mon Aug 07, 2006 12:30 pm
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Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2004 1:58 pm
Posts: 228
Location: Oregon
I'm not an expert on blueberries, but have you read through this article, and seen anything that possibly could be causing the problems?

Maybe if you could describe the symptoms of the distress...

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Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:37 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1188
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Three years ago I transplanted 9 mature blueberry plants from my Uncles successful 'patch.' I'd designed and built an extensive 'berry cage' to protect them and had prepared the soil in that area to their liking. We watered them, mulched them, and actually removed all the blossoms from their first two crops to help them reestablish. They never flourished, in fact, they shown a slow and constant demise... We'd loose 'portions' of a bush, and eventually the entire plant. Finally, scraping away the mulch around a nearly dead bush, I think I found the reason: Voles.

Where a mole will digs tunnels, Voles seem to take over from there. They appear to use abandoned mole tunnels as their own. At this time the entire Willamette Valley was overrun with Voles, and I learned that they're prettymuch miniature gophers - no doubt eating the roots of my blueberry plants. As the plants were inside a 'cage,' to keep the birds from them, small hawks and owls couldn't easily get to them - and under the mulch, they had a field day! Well, we've abandoned the blueberry project ... makes me sick thinking of it. But I wonder if you're experiencing the same thing? Scrape away your mulch, or just look around the plants dripline for those tail-tell vole holes.

If you find them, I can't even advise you what to do..? I've combed the Internet looking for answers and have dealt with voles for years; this years 'remedy' has been to drop a "Mothball" down several of their obvious holes - I don't know if it's working, but I'd sure hate to smell those things for any length of time... One thing I wouldn't advise is poison. My earth-friendly Brother and his wife warned me not to drop poison down each hole I found, because the owls and hawks would eat the distressed voles and die too. I ignored them, and for about 3 years after that we didn't hear the usual chorus of Great Horned Owls. I'd rarely see our elusive raptors, but assumed the poised voles hadn't done them any good either... So I've stopped that. {our 'berry cage' has no 'roof,' so a perched owl could nab a poisoned vole if I tried that 'remedy' on the blueberries}

Anyway, that's my blueberries demise - as far as I can tell. Here's some Vole info I just found online:

"Voles are members of the rodent family. Many species live in Oregon, including grey-tailed voles that are commonly found in valley grass seed fields. They feed on grass seed and on leafy plant growth, which stunts the plants, preventing them from producing seed. Often referred to as meadow mice or field mice, voles grow to no more than six inches in length and breed rapidly. Female voles can produce a new litter of 4-8 young every three weeks, and they breed again immediately after delivering their young."

Voles - Blueberries [bottom of page]:

Voles [below Gophers]: ... gopher.htm
I'm still interested anyone's methods of dealing with these rodents, and please don't suggest cats ... we feed our native birds, and the two don't mix. And I'd wish you 'Luck' - but I don't think luck has anything to do with Vole control ~

Temperate Orchard Convservancy:

Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:01 am
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