April is Blueberry Festival Time
We love our native plants, and Florida blueberries are natives!
Early settlers gathered wild blueberries and gave them names: High Bush, Rabbit Eye, and Evergreen. In those days, it took a great deal of luck and a lot of patience to grow and gather enough blueberries for one pie!
Later generations learned (perhaps by trial and error) that to bear fruit the blueberry bush must have a few hours to “chill out” every season. When temperatures drop below 45° F and stay there long enough, a chilled blueberry bush will flower and leaf out in the spring — and if the bush is planted in full sun, its fruit quality will be high. Check out Florida’s chill hours.
Years ago, there was a blueberry farm located off Citrus Blvd, but unfortunately it’s no longer there. Still, we love our blueberries so much that the smart scientists at the University of Florida IFAS Extension keep a close eye on them for us. IFAS can report that production has steadily increased from about 1.5 million pounds in the early 1990s to over 25 million pounds in 2015 even with numerous and sometimes severe production problems.
Florida’s blueberry production will always be touch-and-go, unlike northern states such as Washington, who leads the nation with a production of over 96 million pounds a year, and Michigan with over 20,000 acres set aside just for growing blueberries.
Florida ranks #8, which is “up there” only because of the introduction of a new variety developed by our own University of Florida and named the ‘Southern Highbush’. Thanks, UF/IFAS for improving the science and production of the Florida blueberry!
April is Blueberry Festival Time in Florida; even though someone could pull a Covid-cancel at the last minute, many festivals are still on!
Mount Dora Blueberry Festival
April 24/25 in Donnelly Park
THE BLUEBERRY GARDENER’S GUIDE
From UF/IFAS Extension, the Blueberry Gardener’s Guide provides home gardeners with basic information on growing blueberries in Florida. Download the PDF.
Interested in adding blueberry bushes to your landscape? Ask to speak to one of our horticulturists.
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