Blueberry question please!

mrsg47(7)March 18, 2014

Hi all. I was given a 'high-bush' blueberry (I do not have its name) from Maine as a gift last fall. I healed it it and it is almost bright red in color and the buds are swelling. Will it need a pollinator, if so, what do you suggest? The bush arrived a little over three feet tall. It is very healthy. Many thanks, Mrs. G

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ericwi

Blueberries produce best when there is another shrub, of another variety, growing close by. Pollination is accomplished by bumblebees here in Madison, but in warmer climates, honeybees are commonly used. If you have native bees in your yard, I suspect that they will take care of pollination for you. I would get that shrub planted as soon as possible, it will likely begin to flower in April.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 7:15PM
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mrsg47(7)

Thanks Ericwi, but which 'other' shrub do you suggest? I have never grown blueberries before. Mine were always wild (in the past). Thanks, Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 8:42PM
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ericwi

You have a different climate than we do here in Madison, Wisconsin. I don't know what blueberry cultivars are sold in your area. Jersey or Rubel come to mind, but these are older cultivars, and I suspect that there are other varieties available locally. Early spring is a good time to plant blueberry shrubs, while they are still dormant. Another good time to plant is in the fall, around September.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:00PM
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charina(6b)

Given that your bush was from Maine, it is most likely a northern highbrush. My understanding is that northerns are more self-fertile than southerns or rabbit eye, but still benefit from a cross polinator. Any other northern highbush cultivar should work just fine. Take your pick, there are hundreds of cultivars to choose from. Some common ones include:

Early:
Duke
Patriot
Reka
Spartan

Mid-Season:
Bluecrop
Blueray
KaBluey
Northland

Late:
Aurora
Darrow
Elliott
Jersey

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:02PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Mrs.G,

Can't really help you on variety but welcome to the Blue side:)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 7:54AM
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mrsg47(7)

Thank you all, but I don't even know if it is early, middle, or late blooming. All I know is it is healthy and happy. Oh dear, yet another addiction to the 'blue-side'. Guess I'll buy two different varieties. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 10:31AM
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Bradybb(wa8)

Mrs.G,
The Blueberries usually bloom around the same time.The early,mid and late terms are when the fruit gets ripe.
By the way,out of the list that charina named,my top three in order are Spartan,Darrow and Reka. Brady

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 11:20AM
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mrsg47(7)

Great thanks so much Bradybb. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 5:09PM
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lsoh

There are some serious blueberry growers on this forum. I, on the other hand, am just an amateur. So factor that in when you consider my comment.

Blueberries turn blue before they are ripe. To determine if an individual berry is ripe, gently tug on it. If it is ripe, it will release easily. That leaves 3 approaches to harvest
1) Pick them all when they've all turned blue. Most won't be very ripe and they won't taste as good. And you get all the berries at once. Not good for us.
2) Harvest often. Test individual berries. Pick the ones that are ripe. Because I grow for fresh eating, this is the approach I use. I pick every day or so to keep a fresh supply. But that means a lot of redundant berry testing. Not a very efficient approach.
3) After they have all turned blue, leave them hang. If you can keep them from the birds, they should get sweeter as they hang. I think fruitnut lets his hang for several weeks. Probably gets you the best tasting berries. Efficient approach. But you get your berries all at once. For us, that's not good.

Some varieties ripen over a short period, some varieties ripen over a long period. I have 4 varieties. The ones that ripen over a short period work much better for me. Given my approach to harvesting, there's extra tugging / testing on the varieties that ripen over a longer period. Specifically, my Chandler ripens over many weeks. I will eventually replace it. On the other hand, the Chandler blueberries are HUGE. And that has it's own appeal.

In my yard, the birds devour any vulnerable blueberry when it has even a hint of blue. I must net them or I would get zero. I have a simple pvc frame. Throw a brid net over that to avoid snagging.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 8:04PM
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mrsg47(7)

Isoh, thanks so much. I am just looking for a good pollinator, without the thought of size of the berry. I am much more interested in taste and sweetness. I guess I have a bit of trial and error to go through. Thank you for your in depth thoughts. I am absorbing all of this new info. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 9:35PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Not many of us here have grown them long, or seem to be expert's on NHB. I have three. 2 of them for three years. and one for one year. I like mine, but really have not compared to others. I have Toro, Liberty and the newer one Chandler. the former two are said to be decent. I was looking for an early one and Spartan seems the best early. The taste of the fruit on "Bonus" sounds good, but never tried it myself. Toro and Liberty are very pretty plants.
They all seem to flower at the same time. So no matter what you choose, you should be OK.
I bought three SHB this year. As more users here have them. Although I had to limit my selection to cultivars that are more cold tolerant. So I have limited choice of SHB.

Other NHB that interest me but really know just what I read on the net are Darrow, and Sweetheart. We have restrictions here due I guess to our large blueberry crop. Some cultivars are not allowed, and some nurseries refuse to do the red tape too. So Darrow is not allowed here. All the rest I mentioned are. I have no idea why? Sweetheart was recently cleared? It was restricted last year, now is cool this year. So I guess they first test new cultivars before letting them in.
Yeah I wanted Darrow, but is restricted so I bought Chandler instead. Similar, but not as good.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 6:12PM
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mrsg47(7)

Thanks Drew!!!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 7:38PM
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Bradybb(wa8)

I think Mark Ehlenfeldt,who helped develop a number of NH,including Sweetheart,said,if he could only have one Blueberry bush,it'd be Cara's Choice.
I have both Sweetheart and Cara's Choice,but they are young and am looking forward to trying them,maybe a little this year.I think they both came from the Cook's Garden.
Here's a little information about Mark and some of the Blueberries he's worked on. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr. Mark Ehlenfeldt

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 11:20PM
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Bradybb(wa8)

Here is also an article concerning the Spotted Wing Drosophila fruit fly and Blueberries.Something we can do right now is choose early varieties and enjoy the fruit before this pest can do anything about it. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Thatâs a Berry Good Question

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 11:50PM
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mrsg47(7)

Brady, I read all of the articles. Cara's Choice sounds very, very good. This is never simple. Thank you for your advice and research. Always appreciated. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:38AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

If you can't find it, Burpee's has it for a good price. I considrered Hannah's too, at the time they were restricted, but have been cleared for my state. Not the ideal environment here, but would grow. No blueberry is perfect.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 10:50AM
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charina(6b)

"[Mark E.] said,if he could only have one Blueberry bush,it'd be Cara's Choice."I have not (yet) read a quote from Ehlenfeldt that precise about his preference for cara's choice. What I have read is:
Some blueberry fans regard "Cara's Choice" as the best blueberry they have ever tasted. Ehlenfeldt describes it as a very sweet, medium-sized berry that has a pleasant aroma. This berry can be allowed to remain on the plant for several weeks after ripening. It will continue to sweeten, while enabling growers to extend their harvests over a longer period of time.

Former USDA blueberry researcher Arlen D. Draper selected the parents for "Cara's Choice." Evaluations by Draper, Ehlenfeldt, and others led to release of "Cara's Choice" in 2000.
I've traced the parentage of cara's choice back to the wild stock from NJ (mostly), GA, and FL. It is an interesting mix of northern highbush, northern lowbush, rabbit eye, V. darrowii, and V. constablaei. Within its parentage are commonly available varieties, as Darrow, Bluecrop, Jersey, Pioneer, and Rubel (one of the wild parents).

Even though it was released in 2000 it does not seem to be very widely available. Perhaps it is because it only produces about 1/2 to 2/3 of other common cultivars (57% of Duke, 66% of Bluecrop), the berries are medium size, and mid season ripening.

It's one of the varieties I'm purchasing this year because of the described quality.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:02AM
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charina(6b)

Found the quote at americanfarm.com
Regarding its aromatic flavor with balanced brix and acidity, Dr. Ehlenfeldt said, âÂÂIf you told me I had only one to eat in blueberry season, this is the one IâÂÂd eat.âÂÂ

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 2:14PM
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mrsg47(7)

Cara's Choice is the one I am going to buy! Thanks all. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 4:45PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yeah all this talk about Cara's Choice, and the breeder comments. I bought one too! Now I'll have 4 in pots, well at least it's an even number! They will be put next to the three in the ground for the summer/ So any possible cross polination can take place.
I still want Spartan, Bonus, Sweetheart, Hanna's. and Sunshine Blue.
BTW that article where the breeder mentions if only one, the whole article was good. Mention of how HQ Liberty is, so now at least i have something to compare. It is excellent!
I mentioned in another thread about how bad Southmoon was damaged, well adding fungi and keeping a close watch on it paid off, it's already growing, and appears to be
recovering.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 8:59AM
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