Best-tasting blueberry?

tree_oracle(z6b MA)June 28, 2008

I'm thinking about planting some highbush blueberries but I'm unsure of which variety to plant. I'm looking for a berry that leans toward the sweet side rather than the tart. I would appreciate some input on varieties that you guys consider to be the most flavorful and sweet. I realize the question is very subjective but hopefully there will be a consensus on a particular berry or two. Thanks.

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I actually have a strong opinion about this! COLLINS, all the way. It is one of the earlier blueberries, smaller and sweeter than many cultivated varieties. I grew up eating only wild blueberries and have a distaste for the huge, pulpy blueberries that are grown everywhere now. However, I found a local farm that grows Collins and that's the only place I pick.

I have a plan to put some blueberry bushes and raspberry bushes in my old vegetable garden area and Collins is the only variety of blueberry I will plant.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 1:13PM
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gardenscout(z6 NE RI)

If you want a report on how my blueberries taste, you'll need to ask the birds in my garden. They get all the ripe ones first thing every morning.

I don't mind though, because I only have three small shrubs, and the berries don't all ripen at the same time. I don't think I'll ever have even a handful of berries that are all ready to eat on the same day. So the Robins are welcomed to the snack.

So if you want lots of berries you need to plant a lot of shrubs, and be ready with the bird netting come July.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 12:25AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

I grew up eating only wild blueberries and have a distaste for the huge, pulpy blueberries that are grown everywhere now.
HmmmÂI think naked toes has been sipping a little too much blueberry brandy next I expect we will read that she feels flat leaf parsley is superior to curly leaf parsley!! Although I will admit the smaller tarter huckleberry and low bush blueberry make mighty fine pies they miss the mark in other baked goods such as muffins, sweet breads, or pancakes and topping for cereals, yogurt, and ice cream. My vote is for Blueray all the way!!!!!
I agree with gardenscout at last count I had thirty two blueberry shrubs and last year without netting collected enough for one batch of pancakes. I have yet to find a reasonably simple way of netting individual bushes without harming the bush when removing the netting. Any ideas? kt

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:21AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Thanks for the suggestions. I had heard of Blueray but Collins was new to me. I'm somewhat of a novice on the various cultivars so I'm determined this season to try as many varieties as I can from pick-your-own farms and farm stands. I went to a farm last year which had four or five cultivars and one of them produced berries that were much more flavorful and sweet than the others. Unfortunately, the farmer was busy waiting on other people so I didn't have an opportunity to ask which variety was the one that I liked and unfortunately the individual bushes were not labeled. The whole experience was somewhat of an eye-opener for me because up to that time all blueberries that I had ever tried tasted pretty much the same.

I must say that I'm very surprised at the lack of opinions on this topic. I'm wondering if most people are like me in that they usually don't pay attention to the variety of blueberry that they buy in the store or pick at a farm.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 8:55PM
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Tree, I think you are right. I have a feeling even gardeners who can tell a Franz Schubert phlox from a Russian Violet phlox at 20 paces wouldn't know a Collins from a Blueray if they ate one.

On the other hand, some of us are foodies as well as gardeners so we have to know the name of the fruit we eat so we can have it again! When I first asked at my local orchard what variety of blueberries they had, they were a little surprised. I think they are used to folks asking for certain varieties of apples but not blueberries.

And KT, I beg to differ! Wild blueberries are not huckleberries and they are sweet, sweet, sweet! (In July and August roadside stands in Maine and parts of New Hampshire will have them, and I know of one place in Massachusetts, Dick's Farmstand in Lunenburg, Mass.) I hear the secret to the sweet wild blueberry is actually the soil and growing conditions of the New England mountains.

When I was young we would pick berries on a hillside (mountain side?) in New Hampshire. There was a can there to put money in, pure honor system. An unmarked dirt road led us to the base of the hill and then we got out and hiked with our coffee cans on strings around our necks. My father showed us how to roll our fingers over the fruit so that only the perfectly ripe berries would be picked. We picked "clean" to save us time later...and of course we ate a good portion of what we picked right there on the hillside. I remember the hill was also covered in tiger lilies and filled with the songs of birds. Those are sweet memories. My father had the important job of protecting our load of berries down the hill. We all dumped our berries in a large bucket he carried. My mother would sing at least one chorus of "The Sound of Music." At home the berries would go in the sink filled with water and my mother would pick out all the leaves and stems and bugs. Then we baked: the pies, and the muffins and the jam and the pancakes. Oh man. Brings tears to my eyes.

The hillside in New Hampshire now houses big McMansions and the birds and the tigerlilies and the blueberries are gone.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 9:05AM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

What nice memories you have, you are so fortunate. Hope you share them with your kiddo's, nearly brought tears to my eyes too. kt

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 12:10PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Great post, barefoot, great post. What a shame all that is gone now...


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 6:45PM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

TO - My favorites are the wild high bush blueberries that I pick on the Cape every summer (how could I not appreciate something that I have to work so very hard to avoid Poison Ivy to pick?), but here is a thread from the fruit and orchards forum that you might find useful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Favorite Blueberry Variety?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 7:29PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

naked toes,
I saw this blueberry vista today and thought of you. kt

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 9:36PM
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Thanks KT! Wow, are those all blueberries?! My blueberry hill looked something like the picture below.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 7:26PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Yes all blueberries the area is fall mowed to keep other plants from maturing. Your link didn't allow me to see your photo. kt

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 9:28AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Well, I went to pick some blueberries this past weekend with my children and it may be more difficult than I thought to ascertain which varieties that I'm tasting. I went to The Blueberry Farm in Hanson which I highly recommend for quaintness. They have the healthiest blueberry bushes that I've ever seen. They would make good shrubs in most people's yards. There was no shortage of ripe blueberries to choose from but I was probably a week or two early from seeing the real mother lode. There were distinct taste differences between the varieties. Some were large and sweet but very mild in taste while others were smaller and very flavorful but also very tart which I don't particularly care for. The couple that owns the place purchased the property a few years ago and cleaned it up quite a bit. They said that the blueberry bushes were around 60 years old but the whole place was overgrown with grass and weeds when they bought it. They've done a fanastic job getting the place in shape. They knew some of the varieties that were planted there but they couldn't confirm a berry as being a particular variety. Although I was told that the large sweet ones may be a variety called Weymouth. All of the plants and berries pretty much looked the same to me. This may be an impossible task to associate a berry with a particular variety.

On a side note, there was a woman there with several out of control children. The kiddies thought it would be fun to grab a branch as close as they could to the main trunk and then quickly run their tighted hand to the end of the branch stripping off all blueberries on the branch whether they were ripe or not. Once the owner saw this, he was rightfully terse with the woman about keeping her brats under control. She didn't seem to understand why there was a problem. She didn't think the kids were doing anything wrong. Is it any wonder why the current generation of kids have a gone to hell in a handbasket. When I was a kid, I would have had a belt taken to my behind for pulling a stunt like that. Ahh, the good old days...

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:00PM
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This whole page was mostly a waste of the questioners time!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 9:17PM
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When I was a kid we would pick wild blueberries in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, they were very very sweet. I am pretty sure the bushes are still there. New York does that forever wild thing, so no McMansions. Anyway, unfortunately I don't know the variety, but I have a cousin who lives in Rhode Island and his shrubs are the size of small trees. Not only are the berries really tasty they are large and he gets hundreds, if not thousands of berries every year off of less than ten tree/shrubs. If anyone is still interested I might be able to find out the variety.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 9:11PM
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siovhan_yahoo_com says the best tasting is ka-bluey

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 10:13PM
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One thing to take into consideration is not only sweet vs tart. I have planted O'neil and while they are very sweet they dOnt taste much like blueberries. In fact they don't taste much like anything, they just taste sweet. If anyone knows of a blueberry that actually tastes the most like blueberries I'd like to know as well.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 2:02AM
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Recently I planted 3 bushes each of 2 year old Northblue and Northern blueberries from Stark Bros. Both on the advice that they would produce the smaller tart berries similar to what is found wild throughout New England. Since childhood my taste for blueberries has favored the smaller tart ones and not the large mushy flavorless ones. This regardless of how they are used, on cereal, mixed diced fruit, muffins, pancakes, pies, and so on. Probably it is simply a matter of expectation left over from childhood experience.

Now the fun part. After planting them in a mossy floored area of field and foregoing mowing the area something quite unexpected occurred. It turned out that a myriad of small native blueberry plants sprouted up. This in an area I have mowed relatively aggressively for the last 30 years. These must be tough little plants. So I plan to nurture them, and row them up. I'm told the local native plants can grow to 5-6 feet. So in a few years I should have more than enough very determined, hearty, disease resistant plants yeilding my favorite berry type. Some are even showing a few berries now. I am thrilled at the prospect and amazed by the demonstrated tenacity of life.

What is the impact of a tined berry harvesting scoop on bushes? It would seem pretty harsh on the bushes to use one.

Best regards to all,


    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 4:21PM
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silverkelt(Z5b/Southern Maine)

Working with wild blueberries is a treat, living in a maine, pretty much anywhere that you cut down trees, the wild blueberry bushes appear. THey are much easier to put into pancakes, muffins or any other assortment, they have less juice to start with, so it works much better in baking.

I too prefer the taste of the wild blueberry bushes vs high bush large ones, but I do grow several of those as well and have tried several more, Ive done, patriot, bluecrop, and blueray.. Frankly, they all taste similiar to me, I know Ive had jersey as well.. To me the larger ones, really need to be eaten fresh.. within a day or two or they become very stale tasting.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 6:54PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I found this thread and since I am planning on adding blueberry bushes this year, I wondered whether you added blueberry bushes, TreeOracle, and how it all worked out?

Anyone else have some Blueberry Bush experiences to share? I'd especially like to know where the best place to purchase bushes might be?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 1:00PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Funny you should ask PM. I've wanted to plant some blueberry bushes since I started this thread but I never got around to it. This year I did something about it. Home Depot was having a special on blueberry bushes this past fall that I couldn't resist. Each bush was only $3. I bought around 20 of them. I have Bluecrop, Blueray, Bluegold, Northland, and a couple of others varieties that I've forgotten at the moment. Holy Cow, we're going to have blueberries everywhere in 2-3 years.

This year was a banner year for us for apples and cherries. We also had a million crabapples although we left those for the birds. Soon we'll have blueberries and I've planted a couple of Asian pear trees for my wife. Unfortunately, the deer seem to have a taste for those trees. I also had a bed of strawberries that were just decimated by chipmunks, rabbits, and deer. I was so unhappy about it that I think I'm going to use that bed to grow onions this year. Let's see how well the critters react to those. I'm going to build some special raised beds in the spring to grow some blackberries. So we should have a ton of those in a couple of years, too.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 8:52PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Well, that was quite a find with the blueberry bushes, tree oracle! You will be able to start your own 'pick your own' blueberry business, with all those bushes. (g) Maybe time to buy a new freezer, too.

I wonder if you did a soil test before hand and if your soil is acidic enough? Do you plan to cover the bushes with netting once they start producing fruit?

I would love to know what kind of apple and cherry trees you chose and did you do a lot of research first? Crabapples make great jelly. Onions over strawberries, lol, that will be quite a surprise to the local critters. On the blackberries, I remember a consultation I had with a landscape architect and telling him I wanted to try blackberries and he explained with a smile that I would have to just about build a concrete bunker around the roots to keep them from taking over my yard. Is that what you mean by a special raised bed?

I think it is very smart of you to make the effort to produce what your family needs for it's own food and I bet it's a very exciting project for you and the whole family.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 7:10AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

That is indeed what I meant by a "special" raised-bed. I don't need blackberries popping up everywhere.

I'm a chemist who also likes to garden and both interests involve pH so you can bet that I know the pH of my soil. I have a nice recipe that I use for planting things that like their environment to be acidic. I use one part compost, one part peat moss and one part topsoil (usually native soil) along with a generous sprinkling of sulfur powder. The pH of this mixture gets down around 4-5 in no time. It's just perfect for azaleas and rhodies and I'm sure blueberries. I live close to the ocean so my soil is very sandy which should also be good for the blueberries.

I have two Fuji apples trees and two Granny Smith. The former is very sweet and the latter have a tartness that is perfect for baking. The two varieties pollinate each other nicely. I have one crabapple that's called Prairiefire. It's highly resistant to disease and puts on a banner crop every year. I planted it for ornamental purposes and to feed the wildlife. If I was going to grow a crabapple for jelly, I would plant a Dolgo.

You're right about the freezer. We bought one a few years ago that I thought was plenty big for our purposes but we freeze so much food that I think we're going to get another one this year.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 9:17PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Tree Oracle, thanks for that recipe for the mix you plant your blueberries in. I'm pretty sure I am around 6 for PH and the soil could use a little help.

Prairiefire is a very pretty crabapple, too. I see the difference in the size of the fruit between that and the Dolgo.

I look forward to seeing some photos of your blueberry bushes in the growing season. Twenty of them must be quite a sight. Good luck with them!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 8:54AM
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In the years '75 to 84 I lived where there was an 8 to 10' blueberry bush (sorry, don't know the variety, but it was nursery planted). I could never harvest more than a cup of fruit at a time due to the competion with the birds. In the ensuing years I wish I had installed a plastic owl on a post over the bush.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 7:00PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I haven't had much luck with the plastic owls. There are some newer ones out now that turn their heads occasionally (solar-powered) to fool the birds into thinking they're alive. Haven't tried one of those. I think one of the best methods is just to make it a war of attrition. If there are enough blueberries or whatever it is you want to harvest then the birds can't possibly eat all of it. Then all you have to worry about is the deer problem.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:00PM
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My inlaws have a large pipe cage over their blueberries and they put a net up during the season and take it down in September before the leaves fall. The birds get a good feed after the net comes down since there are always still berries ripening then, but we all get a goodly number of berries also. They do have some bushes in other parts of the garden that the birds can feed on when the net is up.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 7:48AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I like your strategy, Tree Oracle, and wish I had room for many blueberry bushes. With the 4-6 that I might be able to fit in, I'd have to go the route that Bab's parents go, with some kind of netting.

I guess you mean a PVC framework that your parents use to support the netting, Babs?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 9:42AM
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I've enjoyed following this thread. I have a number of different varieties of blueberries. Our favorite is Bluejay, sweet but not too sweet, tastes like a blueberry. Next is Patriot. I also have lots of wild blueberries and some wild huckleberries which are superior in flavor but their harvest is a much shorter time period and I do love fresh berries best!
By the way, has anyone tried paw paws in Maine??? If so, which varieties are hardiest and taste the best?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:01PM
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I'm glad I re-read this thread; it's reminded me that a) I love blueberries and b) they're not all that much much more work than lawn. I really should fill up part of my yard with them.

Also, though, it reminded me how much I miss some of the old members who no longer post here!

I'm going to look for alternatives to plastic pipe for blueberry netting; maybe something built out of cedar would work, and would not need to be taken apart (just the netting removed).

Quick question - when I look at blueberry varieties, they're never listed as getting higher than 6 feet. What I'd LOVE to find is a really tall variety, one that would work as a privacy screen as well as producing berries. I know it's not all that practical, since shorter plants are easier to pick, but my space is so limited that I need plants that will fill multiple roles.

Maineiacbac, I did a "search this forum" on the word pawpaw, and there were 2 threads that mention them. I don't personally know anything about pawpaw, but a new thread, or a follow-up to one of the old ones, might be a good idea.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 8:30PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Maineiacbac, Thanks for reporting on the varieties you have and enjoy. IâÂÂm getting ready to select which varieties to grow, so that helps. So far IâÂÂve been using a reference from the book, âÂÂEat on the Wild Sideâ that recommends varieties of fruits and vegetables based on their nutrition.

What they had to say, was that Rubel has the most nutrition of any blueberry. And here is the list of other varieties which are considered more nutritious.

Bluechip, Bluegem, Bluegold, Brunswick, Burgundy Maine, Brightwell, Burlington
Centurian, Chandler, Climax, Coville,Darrow, Earliblue, Early May, Elliot
Northcountry, Northsky,Rancocas and Sharpblue

But none of those recommendations are based on flavor, and thatâÂÂs important too.

I have never even eaten a paw paw, but wonder what they taste like. IâÂÂve seen photos of the trees and they look pretty attractive.

DtD, I am with you on making a framework with wood instead of plastic, so just the netting could be added and removed.

I havenâÂÂt noticed the heights on different varieties of blueberry, but I donâÂÂt remember reading about one that gets taller than 5-6ft. I think the breeders are actually going in the opposite direction and âÂÂhalf highâ varieties are now available that are 3-4ft high. One thing you might consider, Aronia berries are supposed to have 5x more antioxidants than blueberries and many people are starting to grow more of those. That might be more the height you are looking for? The black berries over the red, are the more nutritious too. Plus they have nice fall color.

And I miss how much more activity there was here, but I'm happy that we still have regulars, that are consistently here. Like you, too. :-)

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:05AM
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My inlaws' structure is iron pipe which is smoother than wood, so doesn't snag the netting when it gets slid on and off each year. It has been in place probably 25 years. There are screw on caps over the ends of the pipes, and coated moderately heavy wire between the upright pipes for horizontal support. Theirs is a quite large patch (perhaps 40 plants?) so it needed to be stout enough to hold quite a bit of netting. It is tall enough to walk under and so that the netting doesn't snag on the bushes.

I guess you could use copper plumbing pipe or galvanized EMT (electrical conduit) for a smaller patch without the maintenance of a wood frame. Elbows, T's, and caps are available for these, I think. The EMT could probably be painted if you wanted a different color and it would be less expensive, though not as elegant as copper.

I'll see if I can a photo of their patch.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:29AM
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