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Blueberry Variety 2010 summary

13 years ago

Here is my recap of the 2010 season along with my recommendations on varieties based on my (limited) experiences thus far with plants that have been in the ground for 4 years (for the most part).

Duke ripened between June 2 and June 22 with main harvest about June 12. The 7 mature plants produced 42 quarts of fair to good tasting berries of fair size (6 qts per plant). Four of the plants had too many berries and the plant health is not too great right now as a result, but they will still be OK I think.

Berkeley ripened between June 6 and June 26 with the main harvest being about June 15. I still got a few into July. The 3 mature plants are by far the healthiest and nicest looking every year, and they produced a total of 21 quarts this year (7 qts per plant). The berries were small to medium in size and had a sweeter, but not as strong a taste as some others.

Bluecrop ripened between June 5 and June 29 with the main harvest being about June 15. The 10 plants produced a total of about 41 quarts (4 qts per plant), but half of these plants were a year younger than other varieties, plus two of the plants were overloaded last year so I had pruned out most of this year's crop on those two. The berries were large on the healthy plants with low crop size, and small to medium on the plants with too many berries. All tasted very good except for some of the smaller ones on overloaded plants. I had to pick some tart ones to get the rest to ripen on these overloaded plants. Some of the plants had way too many berries and plant health looks poor. Others I pruned better in feb to reduce crop size and the health is fair to good on those plants.

Blueray ripened between June 8 and June 29 with the main harvest being about June 20. The 7 plants produced a total of 56 quarts (8 qts per plant) and the taste was very good except on a few plants that were overloaded and had smaller berries. These were still fair to good. The berries were large to very large except on the overloaded plants. The plants still look healthy.

Elliot produced between June 25 and July 15. The main harvest was about July 4. The 5 mature plants and 2 smaller plants produced 34 quarts (about 5 qts per plant) and the size was very large for the early ones and meduim for the later ones. One plant was overloaded and the difference in berry size and ripening period was very noticeable between healthy plants and overloaded plants. These Elliots put on their main new growth before ripening the current crop, and the plants are all healthy looking.

In summary I have a few main points:

Berkeley is now my favorite type for the garden. The plants are by far the best, and the berries produce over an extended period when healthy. The taste was preferred by as many people here as any other variety, although it is not in my top 2 personaly. Next up is Blueray, followed by Bluecrop, then Elliot, then Duke. Bluecrop waaayyyy overproduces unless you prune them very well, Elliot was great this year except that they are not quite as good tasting and by that time of year you can find imported blueberries very cheap, though not as good. Duke's weakness is the plants overload almost as bad as Bluecrop, but are not as tasty. At least they are early.

The next main point is that it is really hard to keep these plants in good health, and I have posted about my methods a lot in the past. I might lose a few this winter, and I just now have gotten my money back from the initial purchases 4 years ago. I am now doing everything manually (water, fertilizer, etc.) and I think that is what has made most of my plants healthy and productive thus far.

My last point is that the experts are correrct when they say how important it is to prune well once the plants get to 4 or 5 years old. If you do not, you will have poor berries and poor/ugly plants. I should also point out how time consuming it is to harvest blueberries in large quantities, and how my teeth start hurting (badly) after eating lots of the berries (acidic).

Oh yeah, another point is that the weather has been very good for berries here in the last 4 years. I have not had to water more than 6 or 7 times in any of the years except one, and that probably has really helped keep the plants healthy since the rain water is much better for them than my rural water.

Another berry farm here is now gone, and I have heard that a second has gone downhill some. There are still a few places where you can go pick them and the plants are surviving and berries good thus far. One new place that I visited is huge and impressive, but I worry that they will really have problems in a few years with berry quality and plant health. I think at any time mine could go downhill also since we are forcing these plants into small areas of "artificial" soil that they may outgrow, not to mention all the other things that can go wrong.

Eat some blueberries! They are second only to red beans in terms of antioxidants per serving size, and when everything is right, the taste is amazing!

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