Time to put out mummy berry plots for 2019!
Now is the time to collect mummy berries to put out your own plot. It is easy to set out plots and it will provide you with valuable information next spring on when the fungus is active in your field. You will need to look at the plot in the spring about 2 times a week.
- Collect about 60 to 150 mummy berries (20 to 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. If you see a few mummies still on a plant, there are probably more underneath that plant. 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. 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. If you have to store them, the best way is in a paper bag in the shade or cool spot and to put them out as soon as you can.
- Find three good locations. 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 among 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.
- Place the mummies in the plots. In 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 20 to 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 1/4” 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 just have the mummy berries covered with soil. Replace the leaf litter over the mummy berries again.
- 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.
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 want to put out a plot and want some help setting it up, we can give you a hand. Please contact Seanna Annis at 207.581.2621, email@example.com or Rachael Martin at 207.581.2629, Rachael.Martin@maine.edu if you need any help or have any questions.