It begins in early spring when a wide variety of Blueberry plants arrive at the local nurseries. They are small, mostly one gallon, and appear reluctant. Holding on to that dormant state with only the fat buds as a promise of the harvest ahead. It ends in mid-summer with those once shy shrubs now producing handfuls of sweet blue berries. The branches are heavy with the abundance of fruit and no one can resist a taste as they walk by. The question always is, what’s the difference? Why so many varieties and how can I choose? Here are some tips on those differences with hopes to find the varieties that suit individual needs and bring success in each garden.
The berries offered at our local nurseries are suited for our climate and zone. The differences therefore are in the fruit size, flavor and season and in the bush size, shape and fall color. The season is usually July and August. Following are several common varieties available in 2011. All varieties are self-pollinating, but will produce better crops if more than one variety is planted. (Information from the Fall Creek Blueberry Source Book)
Bluecrop: Mid-season, large berry with a classic sweet flavor, shrub 4-6 feet, upright and open, red fall color.
Bluejay: Early-mid season, medium berry, delicately sweet flavor, shrub 6-7 feet, upright, orange-red fall color.
Chandler: Mid-late season, giant berry, full robust flavor, shrub 5-7 feet, slightly spreading, wine-orange fall color.
Duke: Early season, large berry, savory sweet flavor, shrub 4-6 feet stocky upright, orange-yellow fall color.
Elliott: Very late season, medium-large berry, zesty flavor, shrub 4-6 feet, upright, red-orange fall color.
Jersey: Late season, medium berry, lush sweet flavor, shrub 6-8 feet upright, orange flame fall color.
Legacy: Late season, medium-large berry, uniquely robust flavor, shrub 4-6 feet open spreading, crimson fall color.
Reka: Early season, medium-large berry, excellent rich flavor, shrub 4-6 feet upright vigorous, red-burgundy fall color.
Rubel: Mid-late season, small berry, subtle sweet flavor, shrub 4-6 feet upright, fire red fall color.
Toro: Mid-season, large berry, mildly sweet flavor, shrub 4-6 feet stocky upright, crimson-red-yellow fall color.
Sunshine Blue: Mid-late season, medium berry, rich sweet flavor, shrub 3 feet upright compact, blue/green-burgundy fall color (semi-evergreen).
Chippewa: Mid-season, medium-large berry, smoothly sweet flavor, shrub 3-4 feet compact upright, red fall color.
Burgundy: Mid-season, small berry, classic wild flavor, shrub 1-2 feet spreading ground cover, burgundy fall color.
Top Hat: Mid-season, small berry, wild flavor, shrub 1-2 feet globe shaped, yellow-orange fall color.