Blueberry Shoot Girdling
I have 20 blueberry plants in a home garden setting just outside of Dallas, Oregon. Each year by winter-time most of my new blueberry shoots get girdled right at or below sawdust level down to soils level (I have 4 to 6 inches of sawdust mixed with compost on the blueberries). Only 1 out of maybe 20 shoots survive into the second year. The area that the blueberries are planted in used to be covered with azaleas and the same problem occurred with them. I assume that some sort of insect is doing the girdling, but don't know what it is. Is this a common problem in the Willamette Valley? Is there anything that I can do to control the problem? I'd prefer an organic control option, but am willing to use an insecticide if that is necessary.
Polk County Oregon
I suggest you submit or take a sample to the OSU plant clinic for diagnosis when it happens. They have an entomologist on site that can evaluate insect problems. What you describe is not a common thing here in the valley and it seems to me that it may be a rodent issue. I can't give you and adequate plan to control the issue without seeing what the damage is. I would also have to see what kind of shoots you are referring to. I suggest you keep good track of the problem if it happens again, taking pictures of the before and after as well as trying to collect samples of the issue and try to find the insect in question. Hope this helps!