tons of blueberries - they're just not turning blue

Frankberry(6)June 22, 2014

Hi,

This is my first time trying to grow anything! I've got Caroline and Heritage raspberries going an inch a day (too early for berries yet, obv.), and one each of Duke and Elliott blueberries which also look really healthy to my (inexperienced) eye: they've each got tons of berries, but they're showing no sign of turning blue, and I'm starting to worry that they'll just wither there and fall off. It's been a good month now for many of them.

Other than that, they seem fine.Lots of green shoots, new foliage, berries look plump, but not huge. They're in raised beds, I water most mornings (unless there's rain in the forecast). I got them from a well-regarded local nursery, and they already had some berries on them at the time. I think the plants are originally from Virginia, and in part I'm wondering whether they were "forced" in the southern climes, and perhaps put out fruit too early for the Boston-area spring that we've had. But they kept on fruiting after I brought them home.

They're in the sunniest part of my yard, which means they're getting about six hours of sun a day, but mostly early morning, and not much in the afternoon. We had a lot of trees on our property, which make it a really nice shady yard for people, but I'm wondering whether it's impacting the fruit.

I've searched the internet, including this forum, and drawn a blank. I'd appreciate any help you have to offer!

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I think you just need to be patient. Duke is early for a northern highbush and will probably start to ripen in the next month. Elliot is very late, probably at least another two months.

Here is a link that might be useful: NHB

This post was edited by fruitnut on Sun, Jun 22, 14 at 20:40

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:36PM
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Frankberry(6)

Thanks fruitnut, that *was* a very helpful link. So with Elliott being one of the latest ripening (September!?), is it too soon for it to have what looks to me like a pretty good crop of _green_ berries? I mean, can they just stay like that for months?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:26PM
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mamuang_gw

I have both Duke and Elliot. Duke berries are still quite small. I just finished thinned many off hoping to size the rest up a bit (might be a bit late for thinning at this point).

Mine has not had any hint of blue yet.

Also, this year, all fruit trees in my yard are 1-2 weeks behind their normal schedule due to this past extremely cold winter.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 9:48PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Frankberry:

Yes they can stay like that for months. I've got pluot that stay on the tree for 7 months!! I hope they're worth the wait!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 10:18PM
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alan haigh

My earliest blueberries (Duke, Patriot) do not begin to ripen until July in southeastern NY and, as stated, this year is a late one (I worry my Goldrush and Pink Lady apples will freeze well before they are ripe).

Savor the anticipation, it enhances the flavor. Plant strawberries for June fruit.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 5:04AM
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sharppa(6)

Slightly south here in the Lehigh Valley, PA.

My Duke variety are just turning blue and I've eaten a handful of slightly tart berries. Oh so good!

Black raspberries are ripening and we've eaten some. Reds have a ways to go. Peaches have a bit of color but a ways to go.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 8:07AM
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Frankberry(6)

Thanks for all for your helpful responses. I hope I didn't sound impatient - I know the earliest crop would be around fourth of July in a good year, and that this year is running a little behind.

I guess I was transferring my experience with my (admittedly) wild blackberries - it's about 5-6 weeks from when the flowers drop till the berries are ready, and I was concerned that if my blueberries were stuck on the bush for longer than that, something might be wrong (bloomed too early because raised in Virginia; stalled because not enough nutrients in soil or not enough sun or something else I don't even know about).

But it sounds like the advice is to simply give it time. And I'm fine with that. While I'm waiting, I'll go back to dreaming about the trellis of summer and fall raspberries I'm planning for next year, and another for a hardy kiwiberry vine!

Many thanks to you all

-Frank

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 9:46AM
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galinas

As your blueberries get ripe, the birds get ready. And they do not wait until the berries are completely blue. As soon as they start getting blueish they eat them. So you may even not notice, that they getting ready. Cover your bushes with netting now to save your berries.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:07PM
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calfee20(6b)

galinas is definitely right. If you don't cover them you will never see a Blue blueberry. We thought we had later varieties but we started putting up a net earlier and earlier. Now we try to get it up in early June so the birds don't learn about the food source. I have had Robins repeatedly dive bomb the net and make holes in it. Some also died from getting tangled in it. The earlier the net goes up the better.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 12:48PM
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Frankberry(6)

Good point. I've had them covered with netting for a few weeks now, and by eye it looks like the number of berries has been increasing, not decreasing, so I'm fairly sure that birds are not taking them, for the most part. No dive bombers just yet - my neighbor has a huge blueberry bush that he doesn't seem to care about protecting, so perhaps they get their fill there!? ;-)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 1:30PM
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poolecw(Georgia 7b)

I have a few Rabbiteye varieties here in northwest GA. My Premiers are ripening now. My Tiftblue are showing the slightest pinkness, and my Climax haven't changed at all.

As for protection, I haven't put up anything yet. My plants are 2 years old now and aren't putting out a lot of berries yet. I did pick up some scare ballons. I doubt they dow much, but a nearby blueberry u-pick it operation puts them up every year.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 2:05PM
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ericwi

I just picked the first ripe blueberry( well, almost ripe) from a lowbush in our front yard, in a very sunny spot on the south side of the house. We are located in Madison, Wisconsin. I expect the blueberry picking to begin around July 10 or July 15, and last through early August.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 12:37PM
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riverman1

If you have too many berries on the plant they won't ripen, don't ask me how I know this. :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Frankberry(6)

OK riverman1, so it sounds like you're saying I need to get rid of some berries, thin them out. Did I understand that right? I just got a few berry books in the mail, so maybe it's time for me to learn how to prune, or is it already too late in the season for that? Should I just let them birds have them all, and try again next year, limiting the number of berries?

Can anyone offer guidelines on what the optimal number/density of berries is. My bushes are about 3 ft high.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:17PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Frankberry:

Very tough question. I can't tell you how to judge that although a picture would help. Certain varieties overset and others don't. Jewel, Emerald, and Star will almost always overset unless pruned some in spring. Sweetcrisp and Springhigh on the other hand haven't needed thinning in my setup.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:46PM
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mamuang_gw

In my yard, the most prolific producers are Duke and Elliot. They set fruits everywhere including small twigs with no leaves.

Getting advice from this forum this year, I thinned all of those small twigs out and thinned other smaller berries from each clusters, too. On Duke alone, I probably thinned hundreds and hundreds.

If it's too late to help size up the remaining berries, I figure it will help safe some energy for the bushes to grow better next year.

Chandler and Blue Ray get more than 6 hrs of sun. Duke and Elliot gets about 6 hrs The rest gets about 4-5 hrs only. They've produced well even with that amount of sun.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 7:06PM
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sharppa(6)

Here's one of my Duke plants with a load of nice blue blueberries on it. This was planted 2 years ago as small plant from Nourse.

Jersey, Blue Crop, Chandler are all still ripening up.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 6:02PM
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Frankberry(6)

Hmmm, so that's about the size of bush that I have, and it's bearing about the same number of berries. Now I have ONE BERRY that turned in the past few days, so maybe everything will turn out all right in the end. As for my Elliott, it may have bloomed too early for where it lives now, but I'll just be patient this year, and see what happens.

The photos and comments are really helpful, keep them coming!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 10:37AM
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riverman1

The plant pictured I would say is ok. Last year though I had a few plants with so many berries they never ripened. This year I thinned quite a bit and still have too many on lots of my plants.

RM

    Bookmark   June 28, 2014 at 5:54PM
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