According to "Sunset Western Garden Book," cultivated blueberry varieties are grouped into three different types: Highbush is the kind you find in your supermarket's produce section. It needs cold winters to produce fruit and, for this reason, is more common in northern U. S. states. Rabbiteye blueberries grow in warm southern climates, becoming taller and rangier than highbush blueberries. The third type, half-high blueberries, is a hardy highbush hybrid. There are also wild blueberries, lowbush varieties that propagate on their own.
This blueberry variety is a patent of the University of Florida and an exception among highbush blueberry bushes because it thrives in hot climates. In fact, you can find it throughout the north-central part of Florida. The Emerald grows upright and produces an early and abundant crop, blooming in mid-February with berries ripening by the second week in May.
According to the Missouri State University Extension Service, the Berkeley is a high-yielding, hardy blueberry bush that grows in the Midwest. This is an upright highbush plant with a spreading habit. It produces light-blue berries that ripen in mid-season to firm fruits with large stem scars.
According to the University of Florida, rabbiteye blueberry bushes, such as Powderblue, are easier to cultivate than highbush ones. They tolerate dry conditions and are less likely to suffer root rot. The Powderblue variety is a late bloomer, setting fruit in mid to late season.
This half-high variety produces abundant crops, but it needs a pollinator to make its aluminium-blue fruit. The Polaris is also a hardy bush that grows to 4 feet in an arching shape. The berries ripen early in the season.
Native to North America, wild blueberries spread naturally through their underground rhizomes instead of being cultivated. For that reason, you may find several varieties growing in the same field. According to Wild Blueberries.com, this lowbush type of berry also has more antioxidant power, is more flavourful and more likely to hold its shape and colour throughout baking than cultivated varieties.
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- "Sunset Western Garden Book;" Kathleen Norris Brenzel; 2001
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; "Blueberry Gardener's Guide;" Jeff Williamson and Paul Lyrene
- Missouri State University; "Bulletin 44: Growing Blueberries in Missouri;" Ben Fuqua, Patrick Byers, Martin Kaps, Laszlo Kovacs and Dan Waldstein; Oct 2005
- St. Lawrence Nurseries: Blueberries
- Wild Blueberries: Wild Blueberry FAQ