Blueberries fruit from July through September, ripening over a two- to five-week period. You can enjoy an extended harvest by planting varieties with early-, mid- and late-season ripening times. Although blueberries are self-fertile, planting more than one variety yields a bigger crop because of cross-pollination.
Types of Blueberries
Northern high-bush blueberries were bred from wild blueberry plants native to the northeast coast of the United States. They require a chilling period to thrive. Southern high-bush blueberries are a cross between the northern types and native southern blueberries, which ripen earlier in the South's warmer climate without requiring a winter chill. Rabbiteye blueberries are native to the Southeastern United States and don't grow well outside their area. Low-bush blueberries are a wild blueberry native to the Northeastern United States and Canada. Half-high blueberries are a cross between northern high-bush and low-bush varieties. They are more compact and cold hardy than their larger cousins and a good choice for gardeners in places with cold winters.
The earliest blueberry varieties ripen in April and May in warm climates and begin producing in June in mild climates such as in USDA Hardiness zones 7 and 8. They include Earliblue, Patriot, Bluetta and Sunrise, all northern high-bush types, as well as Snowchaser, Primadonna, Springhigh and Rebel, southern high-bush varieties.
Northern high-bush types in order of ripening include Duke, Draper, Reka, Spartan, Meader and Collins. Southern types are Star, Palmetto and Oneal. A half-high bush, Polaris, also ripens early.
The Northland and Bluejay northern high-bush varieties follow the early ripeners. Southern types in this group include Jewel and Abundance. Northcountry, Northland and Northsky, half-high varieties, also are early- to midseason producers.
The season with the most varieties available includes the evergreen cultivars Sunshine Blue and Bountiful Blue. Mid-season northern high-bush varieties, in order of ripening, include Blueray, Toro, Draper, Bluegold, Ivanhoe, Olympia and Bluecrop. Southern high-bush varieties include Emerald, Camellia, Misty and Biloxi. The half-high cultivars Chippewa and Northblue also ripen midseason.
Mid to Late
Northern high-bush varieties Chandler, Berkeley, Pemberton, Herbert, Rubel and 1613-A (often called Hardiblue) belong to this group. A widely grown southern high-bush, Legacy, also produces its berries in late midseason.
Late-season varieties, in order of ripening, include Colville, Jersey, Darrow, Liberty, Brigitta and Lateblue. Southern high-bush types are Sharpblue, Southmoon and Ozarkblue.
The latest producers are Elliott and a new variety, Aurora, which is the latest-ripening blueberry in cultivation.
- Northwest Berry & Grape Information Network: Blueberry Cultivar Selection
- "The Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium"; Blueberry Cultivars for Georgia; Gerard Krewer, et al.
- "Michigan State University Extension"; Hints on Growing Blueberries; Erik J. Hanson, et al.; July 19, 1998
- Fall Creek Farm & Nursery: Blueberry Ripening Chart
- "Oregon State University Extension"; Bernadine C. Strik, et al.; March 2008