Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The "Old School" Varities

Lots of people ask us what kind of varieties we have, and some people don't even know that there are different varieties so here are the "old school" varieties, with some useful information about them. Most of the older varieties were for taste and the newer varieties are being altered for shipping and looking good but not tasting good. At Sunset Valley we offer old school and new school. With the "new school" we are using practices that will hopefully improve the taste of the berry and still have it be able to ship well.

Note: a * indicates that we have that variety.

Bluecrop*- Ripens early mid season, just after Blueray. The fruit is large with small scar, has excellent color, firmness and good flavor. Its foliage is somewhat sparse but production is good. This berry is suitable for mechanical harvest. It is also the most popular variety in New Jersey and second most popular in Michigan.

Bluejay- Released by a Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station. It is a mid season berry (about the same as Northland). The fruit is medium in size with long stems that aid in the mechanical harvesting. The bush is vigorous and upright.

Blueray*-An early mid season berry. It ripens a few days a head of Bluecrop. The fruit is very large and firm, and has a fair scar. It produces an aromatic flavor. The clusters are large and tight. The bush is a vigorous and productive. This berry is popular for the u-pick trade, but doesn't machine harvest well.

Elliott- This late season berry ripens two weeks after Jersey. The fruit is a medium size, firm, light blue, and has good flavor. The bush is very vigorous, upright, winter hardy, and productive. It is suitable for mechanical harvesting.

Jersey*- A late mid season berry. The fruit is small to medium sized , has a medium scar, fair color, fair flavor and is firm. The bush is very vigorous and productive. The clusters are long and loose. It is suitable for mechanical harvesting and is the most widely planted variety in Michigan. It is also favored for baking.

Nelson- The Nelson was released by the USDA in 1989. It ripens mid season with Berkeley. The fruit is large, firm, light blue, has good flavor and scar. The bush is vigorous, upright, and suitable for commercial and u-pick harvest. Yields have been high in test pleanting at Grand Junction, Michigan.

Patriot-An early season berry which ripens ahead of Blueray and about the same time as Northland. The fruit is large, small, scarred with good color, and has very good flavor. The bush is vigorous, upright, and relatively open. Test have proved it is very winter hardy. Recommend tof trial in commercial production. It is tolerant or resistant to some strains of Phytophthora Cinnamomi, a soil fungus that causes root rot.

Spartan-An early season berry. It ripens just ahead of Patriot. It has large, firm, light blue in color and had execellent flavor. The bush is vigiours, upright, open, and productive. Suitable for machine harvest. Early season ripening and large size fruit make this varitey very desirable for the u-pick trade.


Planting and Pruning Tips

Newly cleared land is best for planting since it usually contains more organic matter. Thoroughly work the soil for at least two years proceeding planting to subdue weeds and grasses. Add lime if the soil tests below pH 4.5 add sulfur to soils testing above pH 5.5 to acidify problem areas. When planting use 2 or 3 year old plants. Avoid plants older than 3 years old for commercial planting. Plant early in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Space the plants 4' apart in rows 10' apart. Set plants at the same depth as grown in the nursery. Mix a shovelful of acid peat with the soil in each planting hole when setting in sandy soils low in organic mater. Remove fruit buds, either before or soon after setting the plants. Cultivated berries are self fertile. However , if you want a long harvest season plant 2 or 3 varieties ripening in succession. Experiments indicate berries may be larger and slightly earlier- maturing when cross pollination dose occur. Most blueberry roots are close to the soil surface. Cultivate no deeper than 2 or 3 inches and only often enough to keep weeds in check.The blueberry needs annual pruning. Remove all the small spindly growth near the base of the plant. This will promote a more upright bush and keep the fruit away from the ground. Prune to remove dead and injured branches, fruiting branches close to the ground, spindly, bushy twigs on mature branches and old stems or parts low in vigor. Blueberry bushes which are pruned moderately each year produce larger berries, and tends to make the fruit ripen faster. Prune during dormancy, after the leaves have dropped in the fall, and during winter until buds swell in the spring.