Industry Representative: Salih Hodzhov, WB Chambers & Son
Red berry disease is causing serious damage and losses in commercial blackberry plantations world wide, particularly in high value crops established in tunnels as the warm dry conditions created provide an ideal habitat for the blackberry mite. A typical blackberry crop can be worth up to £10,000 a tonne and in recent trials carried out in 2011 up to 41% of fruit was categorised as outgrade due to red berry symptoms. Having a better understanding of the cause of this condition in order to inform strategies for control could represent a huge financial benefit to the blackberry industry, not to mention improving the quality of product on the shelf for the consumer.
Aims and objectives:
• Carry out RNA mass analysis on a range of tissues of affected blackberry to determine if an unknown virus is present;
• If a virus is identified, then design a specific RT-PCR test that can be used to analyse further plants as well as mites (to confirm whether the black berry mite (Acalitus essigi) also carries the virus);
• Disseminate findings to panel members through the project report and an article in AHDB Grower or presentation at an event.