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All About Blueberries

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Planting & Fertilization

Northern Highbush blueberries are self-fertile; Southern Highbush blueberries will produce better crops if more than one variety is planted. Space plants approximately 4 feet apart.

Blueberries demand just the right climate and planting soil, but take very little care if you provide them; the conditions they require. Like their cousins rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, and huckleberries, blueberries like soft rich soil which is rich in organic matter, very acid, and extremely well-drained. Blueberries require 800 chilling hours for proper dormancy (perfect for our area!).

When planting, add plenty of compost or peat moss, but be sparing with manures which are alkaline. Select a sight in the yard which will give your new plant some afternoon shade, which is critical in good fruit production (hot, dry afternoon winds may cause thick-skinned, shriveled small berries). Dig your planting hole slightly wider and deeper than the nursery pot and check for drainage by filling the hole with water. If the hole drains in a short amount of time, 1-2 hours, your new blueberry will be happy. Blueberries need constant moisture but will not live if their roots are standing in water.

Once planted, try not to cultivate around these plants; their shallow roots are easily damaged. Consider mulching at a depth of 2-4 inches which will aid in moisture retention. Compost or bark products work well. Peat moss dries too quickly in our arid climate and will blow away too readily.

Blueberries will benefit from regular feedings. Commercial fertilizers with an acid base will be of greatest benefit.

Master Nursery Camelia, Azalea and Gardenia Food is an excellent granular fertilizer which may be applied 3-4 times yearly. Acid base water soluble fertilizers may be applied semi-monthly from April 15 through August 15 in lieu of granular mixes. Master Nursery Master Gro Acid Food, Peters Acid Food and Stern’s Miracid are all good choices.

For the most efficient pruning, plan to prune when your blueberry bush is dormant—anytime from late November through late February.
Blueberry pruning is simple—you don’t have to be too precise. Leave the plants basically alone for 2 or 3 seasons, except for broken or damaged branches. Then, about the 4th season, when heavy crops of small berries occur, remove some of the oldest canes and clip out the weakest twigs. For largest berries, clip off the outer third to half of the fruiting twigs you retain. If you never prune you will still get fruit, but it will be small and eventually decline in quality.

Pests and Disease
Blueberries suffer from few difficulties. You may wish to spray in winter with a dormant oil and dormant disease combination spray to kill any overwintering insect or fungus spores. Birds will be your biggest challenge; consider placing bird netting over the shrubs as the berries begin to ripen.

Taste testing is truly the most accurate measure of ripeness.
Blueberries tend to be a bit tart up until harvest.Due to the uncertainty of wholesale grower stock, trucking, and weather, all varieties will not be available at all times. Although we do have the ability to special order some stock, we make no guarantee of its arrival and cheerfully encourage alternate selections.

Northern Highbush Varieties
These may reach an overall height of 4-6 feet, depending on variety.

Earliblue: One of the best for all areas. Berry is large, light blue, firm.
Fruit keeps well and resists cracking. Plants are upright. Ripens early.(800 hours)

Blueray: Large, bright blue berry with outstanding dessert flavor.
Excellent ornamental value stunning pink flowers and burgundy red in fall.Upright growth to 4-6 feet. Performs well in areas with hot summers or very cold winters. Ripens early to mid-season. (850-1000 hours)

Berkeley Medium to large berries. Powder blue, firm with slight aroma, less acid than most Vigorous, spreading to 5-6 feet.
Good ornamental value with brilliant autumn color and yellow twigs in winter. Ripens mid to late season. (850-1000 hours)

Bluecrop Considered the best for consistent yields. Large, bright blue berries, good dessert quality. Upright bush to 4-6 feet. Excellent ornamental value with fiery red fall color. Ripens mid-season. (850-1000 hours)

Chandler Largest berry, longest ripening season.Ripens mid continuing into late season.< Slightly spreading habit to 5/6’. (850-1000 hours)

Darrow Slightly flat, light blue, with a delightful tart flavor. “Blue ribbon” size berries. Vigorous growth to 5/6’. Orange fall color.Ripens late season. (850-1000 hours)

Ivanhoe Large, light blue, firm berry.
Tall, open shrub. Ripens early.

Northland Medium size, round, moderately firm, and medium blue. Flavor is good. Spreading plant to 4 feet. Ripens early.

Olympia Medium sized dark blue fruit is perfect for muffins & pancakes.
Pleasant aroma & spicy flavor. Easy to grow- bright red fall color. Ripens mid-season.

Southern Highbush Varieties
Semi-self-fertile varieties. Choose 2 varieties for better yields.

Cape Fear Very large fruit, sometimes covering a quarter Light blue with excellent firmness and mild flavor. Ripens early to mid-season.

Georgia Gem Medium sized fruit with excellent flavor and quality.
Upright bush to 5-6 feet. Ripens early to mid-season.

O’Neal Large, light blue, very sweet fruit of terrific quality. Best flavor of the southern highbush. Upright to 6 feet. Ripens early season<. (300-400 hours) Self-fertile.

Sierra Northern and southern highbush hybrid. Distinctively flat, quarter-sized berries borne in clusters. Moderate producer. Adaptable to many soil types. Ripens mid-season.

Half-High Varieties Bred for cold hardiness and compact shape with an average size of 3 feet, depending on variety.

Northsky Small to medium, light blue fruit. Excellent wild blueberry flavor that is superior to most highbush varieties. Red fall color Ripens July.

Northcountry Medium size sky blue fruit with a mild and sweet wild blueberry flavor. Good quality.
Ripens July.

Northblue  Plump, sweet, and firm navy blue fruit. Very good quality with a wild blueberry flavor.  With refrigeration will store well. Red fall color. Ripens July.

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