BLUEBERRIES FOR LOCAL SALES AND PICK-YOUR -OWN OPERATIONS

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BLUEBERRY SPECIES DISTRIBUTION MAP-- Cultivated blueberry varieties were developed from wild populations native only to North America. Every county in North Carolina has at least one wild blueberry species, often several.

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SPARKLEBERRY--This wild type (Vaccinium arboreum) is native to dry woodlands in the piedmont and coastal plain. Berries (not especially edible) often persist until January.

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A CLUMP FORMING WILD SPECIES from the NC moutains, V. constablaei has excellent "wild blueberry" flavor and light blue fruit.

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DARROW'S EVERGREEN BLUEBERRY is native to north Florida and has been used as a breeding parent to introduce drought tolerance into new cultivars. The bushes are also used as an ornamental plant in the landscape.

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VACCINIUM SPECIES HARVESTED COMMERCIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES Highbush, rabbiteye and lowbush blueberries are harvested commercially, as is the cranberry. Cranberries are also a Vaccinium species.

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A LOWBUSH BLUEBERRY FIELD IN MAINE--This looks like a weedy pasture, but is actually a lowbush blueberry field(V. angustifolium) at harvest time. These native stands occur in Maine and Canada.

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LOWBUSH BLUEBERRY HARVEST--Lowbush blueberries are rake-harvested, and most of the berries are used for processing (canned or frozen) rather than for fresh eating.

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NC RABBITEYE BLUEBERRY ACREAGE--Most pick-your-own plantings in the piedmont and coastal plain of NC are planted with rabbiteye cultivars (V. ashei).

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A MATURE FRUITING RABBITEYE BUSH-- Rabbiteye cultivars are more widely adapted to different soil types, and the fruit is less susceptible to decay than highbush types. Rabbiteye cultivars ripen from late June through August in coastal NC.

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A CLOSEUP OF RABBITEYE FRUIT--The 'rabbiteye' name probably derives from the eye-like appearance of the calyx, which often lacks the erect calyx lobes evident on the fruit of other blueberry species.

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NC HIGHBUSH BLUEBERRY ACREAGE-- Commercial plantings in southeastern NC account for most of the acreage in the state. NC is the third-largest blueberry producing state in the US after Michigan and New Jersey.



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This page was created by Melanie Halsey Agricultural Research Technician I