9.17.15 How to put out a Mummy Berry Plot

If you have not put out your mummy berry plot, now is the time!  You can still find mummies at this time. Walk around a crop field and look for any mummies left on the plants, typically under that plant, you will find a lot more mummies.  The mummy berries should still have some grey and shriveled ones on the ground that can be spotted.  Typically if you see a few mummy berries still on the plant you will find four to ten times as many fallen to the ground under those plants.  You will need about 60 minimally and preferably about 150 mummy berries in total if you put out three plots (20 to 50 mummies per plot).  You can also collect mummy berries from processing lines if you see them then. If you do not have any mummies and would like to put out a plot, please contact me and we can see about getting you some.   Please see below for instructions on how to put mummy berry plots.

We are looking for growers who are willing to check their mummy berry plots twice a week and report to me on the development of the mummy berry cups. We want to place our weather stations in fields with monitored mummy berry plots next year. Please let me know if you would be willing to put out a mummy berry plot and have a weather station in your field.

If you are willing to have a weather station and monitor plots but do not have the experience to put out mummy berry plots, we can help you set up the plots.  Please contact Seanna Annis at 207.581.2621 or via email at sannis@maine.edu if you are willing to be a monitor of mummy berry next year or have any questions.

How to put out Mummy Berry plots

  1. mummy berryCollect about 150 mummy berries (50 for each mummy berry plot) from your crop field(s) near harvest (or from the process line or winnow piles if you have them). The mummy berries will be whitish grey and smaller than the berries and will have dropped onto the surface of the leaf litter under the plants, typically where you still see some amongst clusters of healthy berries on stems.  Often clones produce different amount of mummy berries, so if there are no mummy berries in one spot, try another area in your field. Often there are more mummy berries at the edges of fields.
  2. As soon as possible after you have collected the mummy berries, put them out in the field you will be monitoring. Do not store them in the fridge or in a hot place before you put them out.  The best spot is in a paper bag in the shade or cool spot and to put them out as soon as you can. In next year’s crop field, choose three areas within your blueberry field. I suggest three areas because some years one of our plots has not worked in a field. Each area should be about 3” by 3” that is clear of stems but amongst the plants. Choose areas that look like they have damp soil most of the time and will be easy for you to access next spring. These areas do not need to be widely spread around the field, 5 to 10 ft. between each one will be fine. If you have different exposures, soil types or large shaded areas in your field you may want to place your mummy berry plots around your field to get the full range of when the mummy berries develop. The areas should not be on slopes where the mummy berries will be washed away, in hollows where they will be water-logged or in areas with lots of frost-heaves.
  3. 50 mummy berries before being covered by soil; 3 inchesIn each 3″ by 3″ area, clear off the leaf litter to one side and scrape off about 1/4” of hard packed soil and put aside. Place about 50 mummy berries on the surface of the soil and press the mummy berries firmly into the soil (with your fingers or step on them).  The mummy berries need to be buried in soil but not more than 1/2” deep at most.  Cover the mummy berries with a small amount of dirt (1/4”) on top and press them firmly down again. You should NOT be able to see the mummy berries. Replace the leaf litter over the mummy berries to provide protection over the winter.
  4. VERY IMPORTANT: Stake or flag the plots on either side so you can locate them in the spring.  Two stakes or flags makes it much easier to figure out where to look in the spring.

Questions: Contact Seanna Annis at 207.581.2621 or sannis@maine.edu.