Northern Highbush Blueberries

northern-highbush-blueberriesMost of the blueberries grown in the Pacific Northwest are Northern Highbush varieties. Northern Highbush blueberries are native to eastern North America. But, they grow very well here in the Northwest as well. In fact, Oregon and Washington are two of the top producing blueberry states in the country and acreage in Oregon has grown by 100% since 2005. Warmer areas of the country typically grow Southern Highbush blueberries.

The major difference in growing requirements of Northern and Southern Highbush blueberries is the number of chill hours required for proper fruit set. Chill hours represent how long the plants are allowed to remain in dormancy at temperatures under 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Northern Highbush varieties require cool winters with at least 800 chill hours to produce fruit. This equates to a little over a month of temperatures under 45 degrees. Since Northern Highbush varieties do go dormant and stay that way for a couple months, on average, they are also more cold-hardy than Southern varieties and this is why they can grow and produce well in colder climates. However, when planting in particularlly cold areas, such as eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and Idaho, make sure to plant only the most cold-hardy selections.

Cultivars with later bloom are necessary to avoid late spring frosts and earlier fruit ripening means production won’t be cut short by colder temperatures in early fall. Remember, ripening time is not directly correlated with bloom time so make sure to investigate both bloom and ripening times to make sure the berry will produce in shorter seasons. All blueberries require full sun for good production and well-drained, extremely acidic soil, pH levels between 4.5-5.5. Northern Highbushes typically grow to be between 5 and 9 feet tall. Bushes can vary widely in growth habit, berry characteristics and flavor.

Many cultivars offer beautiful foliage throughout most of the year, making them attractive additions to any home garden, All Northern Highbush varieties are self-fertile and are pollinated by bees, but planting more than one variety will encourage higher yields and bigger berries.

Northern Highbush Blueberry Cultivars- click on a variety to learn more!

‘Earliblue’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 5-7

Medium to large, mildly sweet
berries; light blue.

One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.
One of the earliest Northern Highbush varieties available. Yields are not as high as later season cultivars, but they are fairly consistent across years. Very resistant to cracking and easy to grow. Open, upright growth with beautiful burgundy foliage in the fall.


‘Duke’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
Large, mildly

flavored,

firm berries.
One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.
One of the most popular early season varieties. Berries ripen uniformly making it great for the processed market. The quality of the berries and their ability to remain firm and flavorful after picking also make it a great fresh market berry. Easy to harvest by machine. The variety is more sensitive to heavy soil so it is important to pick a quality site. Very high yields.


‘Reka’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
Medium to large berry with great, sweet flavor.

One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.

Very vigorous and more tolerant of heavier soils. Very high yields and well-suited for machine harvesting. Primarily used in the commercial plantings for the processed market, but is also great for local fresh markets.


‘Patriot’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7
Large in size with a light-sweet flavor.
One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.

Because of this variety’s small bush growth, it is great in container gardens for home growers. This variety also prefers more damp soils. Crop-yields are consistent.


‘Bluejay’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
Medium in size, mild flavor.
Sold out for the season, but orders can be placed for 2016.

Plants are easy to establish and their growth habits lend well to mechanical harvesting. Berries ripen uniformly, making them well-suited for the processed market.


‘Blueray’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7
Large to very large berries. Excellent flavor. Light blue.
One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.

Dense, upright growth. Very sweet, dessert quality berries. Perfect for pies, jams or on ice cream sundaes. High, consistent yields. Does not machine harvest well. Best suited for home growers and local sales.


‘Chandler’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
Very large berries. Good flavor and firmness.
One-gallon containers, two-year old plants available now.

Great U-Pick variety. Sturdy bushes with moderate vigor. High to very high yields. Long ripening season, 4 to 6 weeks. Better in areas where winters are mild.


‘Bluecrop’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
Medium to large berries. Light blue, firm with good flavor.
One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.

Vigorous and upright. Easy to grow, but requires more careful pruning than other cultivars to keep bushes from over-cropping, Fruit should be left on the bush long enough to ripen completely so to avoid “red-black”. Traditionally, a very highly planted variety.


‘Legacy’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8
Medium to large berries. Very good, sweet flavor.
One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.

Very vigorous growth habit. High to very high yields once the plants become established. Excellent overall quality. Foliage turns bright purple through the fall and winter months. Perfect for a variety of uses from processed markets to home growers.


‘Elliott’ Northern Highbush

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‘USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7
Medium to large berries. Vibrant and dynamic flavor.
One-gallon containers, two-year-old plants available now.

This very late variety produces a strongly vibrant tasting berry with high yields. Home-growers and U-pick will be happy with Elliott when harvested at the end of the season.

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