• By Mary Jac Brennan
  • Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blueberry Season is Here!

There are several types of blueberries that can be grown in our area.

The Rabbiteye blueberries are the easiest type to grow and are usually the best choice statewide for homeowners, pick-your-own operations, and for local markets. Early rabbiteyes (Climax, Premier) begin ripening in early to mid July. The other two types are a bit more demanding to grow in our clay soils of the piedmont.

Highbush and southern highbush blueberries may be grown in well-drained soils with extensive site modification, including raised beds, addition of organic matter, acidification, and irrigation. They are more difficult to grow, but ripen earlier than rabbiteye – and for this reason are grown commercially in southeastern NC for fresh shipping in the early summer market window (May-June). Early-blooming southern highbush cultivars like Legacy, O’Neal and Star are prone to crop loss due to late spring freezes and may require freeze protection irrigation.

To select ripe blueberries choose firm, plump, dry blueberries with dusty blue color and of uniform in size.

With Rabbiteye blueberries – pick every 7-10 days to allow fruit to fully ripen. With Highbush and southern highbush blueberries –pick all ripe berries every 5-7 days or less.The general guidelines are to pick all ripe fruit on the bush at each visit.

To avoid decay, do not handle fruit when it is wet. Refrigerated berries will last for to 2 weeks. Blueberries are also very easy to freeze for use later.

The natural antioxidants in fruits will help keep your body working at its best, so consuming a diet that meets your daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to give your body a strong defense against disease. Fruits and vegetables are protective to health as they’re helpful at reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers. They’re also low in calories, which helps prevent obesity … a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The nutritional benefits of eating blueberries are that it is a food that is low fat, saturated fat free, sodium free,cholesterol free, good source of dietary fiber and good source of vitamin C. Besides those benefits, your taste buds will celebrate!

Download a Pick Your Own Blueberry farms pamphlet. For information about freezing blueberries check out this Extension leaflet.

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