Cranberry False Blossom Disease

Notes About False Blossom:

  • False Blossom is described as a virus-like phytoplasma that can be systemic in cranberry plants.
  • False Blossom causes abnormal flowers that do not set fruit, similar to what is seen with Funky Flower disease (‘Funky Flower’ is a virus believed to be Cucumber Mosaic Virus and as of 2009 at least, had only been observed in ‘Early Black’ and one Massachusetts bed of ‘Howes’).
  • Infected uprights may form a witches’ broom arrangement.
  • Photos of the disease symptoms are available in the book: Compendium of Blueberry, Cranberry, and Lingonberry Diseases and Pests, Second Edition (Edited by James J. Polashock, Frank L. Caruso, Anne L. Averill, and Annemiek C. Schilder).
  • The disease is vectored (spread) by blunt-nosed leafhoppers.
  • No treatment or cure for the false blossom pathogen/disease, except to pull out or mow infected vines and try to eliminate any blunt-nosed leafhoppers that are present.
  • During the 2017 season, cranberry uprights from a farily new hybrid planting in Halifax, Massachusetts were found to have false blossom disease, and symptoms of it were noticed at another Massachusetts bog in November, 2018. It has also been detected–when sampling and testing for it–at numerous cranberry sites in New Jersey. No symptoms have yet been observed in Maine, however, even though blunt-nosed leafhopper seems to be becoming more and more established on Maine beds. Pockets of false blossom are also still found in wild bogs on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.