Blueberry rust: biosecurity alert

Page last updated: Monday, 16 May 2022 - 9:15am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Blueberry rust (Thekopsora minima) is a fungal disease that affects blueberries and some relatives in the Ericaceae plant family.

This disease was detected for the first time in Western Australia in April 2022.

Home gardeners and blueberry industry stakeholders are encouraged to check their blueberry plants and report signs of this disease.

About blueberry rust

Blueberry rust is caused by the fungus Thekopsora minima.

It is a serious disease that can cause extensive defoliation and occasional plant death on plants with severe infections.

Blueberry rust has been reported in Europe, Asia, Mexico, Canada, the United States, South Africa and New Zealand. In Australia, it is present in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, and is subject to a containment strategy in Tasmania.

What are the signs of blueberry rust?

Early symptoms of blueberry rust are small reddish spots on the upper surfaces of young leaves.

On the undersides of the leaves, yellow pustules develop. Each pustule releases thousands of yellow spores which can infect other leaves and spread the disease.

In severe cases, leaves turn brown, curl up and drop from the plant and similar pustules may appear on fruit.

How does blueberry rust spread and how can I manage it? 

The disease is spread via spores carried by wind from infected plants, directly by people wearing contaminated clothing, on equipment that has been in contact with infected blueberries or by introducing infected plants.

To reduce the risk of your blueberries becoming infected, limit the access of people (visitors and staff) onto your property, wash clothes after working on blueberry plots or properties and disinfest equipment such as pruning and gardening tools.

Fungicides that contain active ingredients such as copper or mancozeb are effective against rust. Always refer to the label for application and withholding period information. For updated information on chemicals, visit the APVMA website and search blueberries. Please check the listed products are registered for use in WA. 

What do I do if I find it?

Thekopsora minima (Arthur) Syd. & P. Syd, 1915 is a prohibited organism under section 12 of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007

If you suspect blueberry rust is present in your plants, it's important that you not disturb or move the plant. Care should also be taken to ensure that any clothes or equipment do not become contaminated.

Report suspect blueberry rust symptoms to the department via the MyPestGuide® Reporter app or to its Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080, email padis@dpird.wa.gov.au

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080