Let’s start off with early season blueberries. Two of my favorites are Duke and Patriot. Duke is a reliable high yielding plant that’s hardy enough to survive a hard winter and produce early season berries the very next summer. Duke is also one of the best early season tasting variety available today. Patriot is another one of my favorite early season blueberries. Yielding a huge berry in June makes the Patriot a no brainer to add to any berry patch. With excellent out of hand flavor this cold hardy blueberry is second to none for early season blueberry picking. Every early season blueberry planting would benefit from planting both Duke and Patriot. I will always recommend planting a few early season blueberry varieties as the tiny white flowers signifies the beginning of berry season!
Next up is the mid-season varieties. Some of my favorites here include Blueray and Bluecrop. The mid-season varieties are focused on the blues and for good reason. Blueray is one of the earliest ripening mid-season varieties. Blueray produces large, flavorful berries. Sweet berries and a productive, winter hardy plant make Blueray a great choice for backyard growers. The next blue berry is the Bluecrop. Bluecrop blueberries are one of the top commercially grown varieties. They produce firm, large berries with excellent flavor. They are widely used in commercial batches because of their consistent yield, cold hardiness, and vigor. With berries ripening almost a week later than Blueray, Bluecrop and Blueray make great mid-season berry varieties.
Moving on to the mid to late season plants, favorites here include Chandler and Elizabeth. Chandler is one of my top mid to late season berry plants. Chandler has the distinction of having the largest blueberry around. Don’t worry you will not sacrifice flavor for size here as Chandler berries are as delicious as they are large. Chandler makes a great backyard berry as its berries ripen over the course of several weeks. Next up is a smaller berry but some argue the best tasting of all blueberry varieties, Elizabeth. Elizabeth has a large berry in its own right but is truly prized for its outstanding flavor. Elizabeth’s fruit has a wonderful fragrance that only intensifies its fantastic flavor. If you choose only 2 mid to late season varieties make sure Chandler and Elizabeth make your list, you won’t be disappointed.
Rounding out your blueberry season is the late season berries. Your go to options here include Nelson, Jersey, and Bonus. If you haven’t realized yet I focus most of my berry growing and eating on flavor and consistent yield and these late season berries are no different. Nelson starts off our late season berry list as another exceptional flavored berry. Its firm berry yield dependably and will thrive in much of the country. As a resident of this fine state I would be remiss to leave off one of preeminent late season blueberries, the Jersey. Jersey, as its name suggests, was developed in New Jersey and is a sweet, easy to grow blueberry. Jersey is a tall well shaped bush that produces a high yield as well as having great curb appeal. It’s no surprise this late season berry is a favorite of backyard growers.
My final late season variety is a Bonus. The Bonus blueberry is one of the largest berries available, nearly the size of a quarter! This high yield bush will astound you when you see the size of their berries. With excellent flavor the Bonus blueberry is as delicious as it is large. Plant a Bonus blueberry in your late season berry batch and your berries will be the talk of the neighborhood!
There you have it, we have gone down the line from early to late season extending your blueberry harvest with multiple varieties. I believe extending your fruit harvest is essential for backyard growers. Imagine all your blueberries ripening over one week each year and then picture your berries ripening over a 4-10 week period. Which circumstance fits your needs better? If your goal is to eat fresh blueberries, lengthening the harvest is crucial. When I first planted my blueberries I didn’t give much forethought to it. I just picked whatever blueberries were available at the time. This was fine the first and second year as I wasn’t getting much of a harvest on my young plants. As time when on my oldest son kept asking why we couldn’t go pick blueberries anymore and then it clicked. When I decided to expand my berry patch I did the research so I would have an extended harvest period. I knew I wanted to pick berries for 2 months with my kids instead of 2 weeks. Use what I compiled above as a frame work for extending the harvest of your berry batch. Sure not all of these varieties will be right for your climate or setup but many of them might be. Good luck and happy growing!