Share

Variety Selection

Appropriate variety selection is crucial for any perennial crop. Blueberry varieties can be selected so they can be harvested from July through mid-September, if desired.

A description of many available varieties follows. These are grouped according to production season. Varieties are divided into "standard" varieties, with which there is considerable experience in the region, and "recent releases," on which there is little information so far on performance in Pennsylvania.

Early Season

Standard Varieties

Bluetta

Bush is short, compact, low growing, spreading, and of medium vigor. Fruit is medium sized, soft, and blue-black with fair flavor. Fruit can hang on the plant for a long time. Consistent production may be a problem. Winters well and does not break dormancy too early. Moderately resistant to mummy berry disease; highly susceptible to anthracnose and red ringspot virus.

Earliblue

Bush is vigorous and upright spreading. Fruit is large, firm, and light blue with fair flavor. Not recommended commercially in many areas because of erratic fruit set. Fruit does not drop easily when ripe. Plants have some resistance to powdery mildew.

Weymouth

Old variety (from 1936) that has been widely grown. Fruit is a bit soft, of average size, and has a mild flavor. Resistant to many diseases.

Recent Releases

Chanticleer

Very early, but the early bloom time can cause this variety to be very susceptible to spring frosts. Yields tend to be biennial. Early plantings not deemed successful by commercial growers. Needs a well-drained soil. Highly susceptible to anthracnose.

Polaris

A cold-hardy release from Minnesota (half-high). Moderate productivity and average berry size, but has very good flavor and aroma. Not self-pollinating.

Sunrise

Moderately vigorous bush, tall, and relatively upright. Fruit is similar to that of Bluetta in size and color, but firmness and flavor are superior. Resistant to red ringspot virus.

Early Mid-season

Standard Varieties

Bluehaven

Bush is upright and productive but not sufficiently hardy for northern areas of the state. Berry is large, light blue, and exceptionally flavorful.

Bluejay

Bush is vigorous, upright, and open. Berries are long stemmed and hang in loose clusters; they hold on the bush without losing their quality until most are ripe. Fruit is of medium size. Berries are firm and light blue. Wood and buds are resistant to low winter temperatures. Flowers are less resistant to frost than Bluecrop. Production is sometimes erratic. Moderately resistant to mummy berry and resistant to shoestring virus.

Blueray

Plant is vigorous and propagates easily. Fruit is borne on small, tight clusters and canes tend to bend over. Tight clusters can cause berries to drop, especially in hot weather. Berries are large, dark blue, and firm, with good flavor. Consistently productive, but may overproduce if not pruned properly. Upright spreading habit; very hardy. Highly susceptible to mummy berry disease and anthracnose; also susceptible to red ringspot virus.

Collins

Ripens about 5 to 7 days after Earliblue; susceptible to winter injury. Bush is vigorous and upright with some spreading canes. May not sucker freely. Fruit is large, firm, light blue, and has very good flavor. Has narrow soil adaptation and produces only moderately.

Duke

A vigorous, upright bush bearing medium-sized, light-blue, firm fruit with a small dry scar. Blooms late, avoiding early frosts, but ripens relatively early. Plant has numerous canes that are stocky and moderately branched. Buds and wood tolerate fluctuating winter temperatures well. Harvest can be completed in two or three pickings. Flavor is mild and sweet. This variety is performing well in a number of locations. Moderately susceptible to mummy berry and anthracnose. Stem blight problems have been noticed.

Patriot

Plant is upright and vigorous, though only small to medium in height. Fruit is large and firm and has excellent flavor. Fruit must be completely ripe to have good flavor. Though hardy during the winter, this variety blooms early and is subject to frost. Developed in Maine and has excellent cold hardiness. Plants resistant to root rot.

Spartan

Plants are vigorous, upright, and open. Fruits are large, firm, light blue, and highly flavored, but plant performs poorly on amended "upland" soils. Blooms late, but harvests relatively early. Late bloom date helps prevent frost injury. Highly susceptible to anthracnose; partially resistant to mummy berry.

Recent Releases

Draper

A new release from the breeding program at Michigan State. Ripens with Duke, but with better flavor.

Nui

Produces a very high-quality, large berry. However, winter hardiness is questionable and growth is slow.

Reka

An introduction from New Zealand. Untested in the northeastern United States. Upright, vigorous habit that has been very productive where grown. This variety's outstanding characteristic is that it appears to be very adaptable to a wide range of soil types. Moderately susceptible to anthracnose.

Mid-season

Standard Varieties

Bluecrop

Best mid-season variety presently available; bush is vigorous and upright, but canes tend to be slender and whippy. Fruit is medium in size and numerous with, good flavor. Variety has shown consistently high production and good winter hardiness; season tends to be prolonged. Berries appear to be ripe (completely blue) well before full sweetness is achieved, so they need to be picked 5 to 7 days after the full blue color is present. Resistant to shoestring virus and red ringspot virus, moderately resistant to mummy berry and powdery mildew. Very susceptible to anthracnose.

Elizabeth

Extremely flavorful, with very large berries. No longer commercially important because of inconsistent productivity, but of interest to home gardeners because of its excellent flavor.

Northland

Fruit is soft and of average quality , so it tends not to store well. Plants are bushy. Consistently productive. Resistant to mummy berry.

Recent Releases

Bluegold

Very productive and cold-hardy. Has a very bushy growth habit, however. Ripening is concentrated. Primary downside to variety is that the stem tends to remain on the fruit, or when removed, the skin tears.

Chpipewa

A cold-hardy release from Minnesota (half-high). Compact bushes with medium to large, light-blue, firm, sweet fruit. For trial in areas where cold tolerance is needed.

Legacy

Legacy has some V. darrowi (an evergreen blueberry native to Florida) in its background and holds its leaves through the winter, so its winter hardiness is suspect. However, its outstanding characteristic is extremely high yields due to a long harvest season while still having good flavor and quality. For trial only in mild or protected locations, or provide winter protection such as burlap. Resistant to anthracnose.

Puru

Purported to have excellent flavor and fruit quality. Upright, moderately vigorous bushes with light-blue, medium to large fruit. Winter-hardiness is uncertain.

Toro

A vigorous, upright bush that is consistently highly productive. Fruit is large with good color and flavor. Begins ripening with Bluecrop but has a concentrated ripening, and harvest can be completed in two pickings. Tolerates fluctuating winter temperatures well. Not very self-fertile, so it should be planted with another variety.

Mid Late-season

Standard Varieties

Berkeley

Late mid-season. Bush is tall, open, and spreading but tends to drop fruit. Flavor is only fair. Winter-hardiness is limited. Production can be inconsistent. Tends to be susceptible to fungus diseases during wet seasons; also especially susceptible to some viral diseases.

Darrow

Very large fruit on vigorous, upright plants. Fruit is firm with excellent flavor, but can be slightly acidic.

Herbert

An older variety that is a favorite among home gardeners. Fruit is sweet and huge. Skin of the berry tends to tear when picked, however, which increases its susceptibility to fruit rots if not used quickly.

Rubel

A wild selection with small, firm fruit. Bush is erect and very productive. Flavor is fair. Plants are very stemmy during drought or if harvest is delayed. Has higher concentrations of antioxidants than larger-fruited varieties, so it is of even more interest for its health benefits than other blueberry varieties. Susceptible to stunt and resistant to red ringspot virus.

Recent Releases

Bonus

Large fruited. Not really a recent release, but very little testing has been done on this variety.

Brigitta

Upright, vigorous, cold-hardy bush with moderate productivity. Fruit is large, firm, and very light blue. Plant with other varieties to ensure good pollination. Clusters are loose and ripening concentrated. Excellent fruit quality and shelf life. Slow to "shut down" in the fall, increasing its susceptibility to winter injury, so don't fertilize after the early season. Resistant to anthracnose and mummy berry.

Chandler

Extremely large fruit ripens over a long harvest season, so this variety has good potential, especially for pick-your-own operations. Winter-hardiness is questionable.

Nelson

A vigorous, upright bush. Fruit is large, of size similar to that of Spartan, firm, and light blue with very good flavor. Initial tests show it to tolerate cold temperatures well. Test plot yields in New Jersey and Michigan have been high.

Ozarkblue

Very late flowering. Slow to produce new canes. Quality is similar to that of Bluecrop.

Sierra

A vigorous, upright, productive bush. Fruit is medium sized with good color and has excellent flavor and firmness. Because Sierra is an inter-specific hybrid of four species, its cold-hardiness is unknown.

Late Season

Standard Varieties

Coville

Bush is very vigorous and has a spreading habit. Has open fruit clusters. Needs bees for best pollination. Berry is large, medium blue, highly aromatic, and tart. Occasionally does not set fruit well, which can limit its productivity. Narrow soil adaptation and produces only moderately. Fruit is susceptible to anthracnose.

Elliott

Last to fruit of all standard varieties. Bush is vigorous and upright; plants very productive, hardy, and resistant to mummy berry disease. Berry is medium and light blue, with firm flesh and only fair flavor. Late small fruit can be tart, and berry can be fully blue when not fully ripe, so fruit should be allowed to remain on bush after coloring. Interplanting with another late-blooming variety has provided cross-pollination and improved size and flavor. Stores well. Resistant to anthracnose.

Jersey

Bush is vigorous and erect with open fruit clusters. Medium-sized, firm fruit with good color and fair flavor. May have fruit set problems; tends to set fruit without undergoing pollination, so fruit does not size. Considered by some to have sweetest flavor. Resistant to anthracnose.

Lateblue

Bush is erect, vigorous, and very productive. Berries are firm, light blue in color, and are fine flavored, but tart. High temperature during harvest may lead to stems staying on the berries when picked.

Recent Releases

Aurora

A new release from the breeding program at Michigan State. Ripens very late--in some cases, later than Elliott. Excellent fruit quality.

Liberty

A new release from the breeding program at Michigan State. Ripens late with Elliott, but with better flavor than Elliott.

Download Publication

Article Details

Title

Variety Selection

This publication is available in alternative media on request.