VARIETIES RECENTLY IMPORTED BY BLUEBERRIES NEW ZEALAND

BOUNTY

Type: Northern Highbush

Season: Mid Season

General Description: A mid-season, low chill (600-700 hours) northern highbush breed in North Carolina State University by Ballington, Mainland, Duke, Draper and Galletta. Berries are very large and have good flavour with the colour, stem scar, and firmness all being above average. 

Needs intensive management to perform at its best, but returns are said to justify the effort for growers aiming at a hand-picked, premium berry market. With good practice the bush is consistently productive, displays field tolerance to cane canker and stem blight but is susceptible to anthracnose. Berries hang well on the plant and have good shelf life. 

District Suitability: Not fully tested in New Zealand but will probably perform best at northern sites. Should flower in time with late flowering southerns and main crop northerns.

Limitations: This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

JUBILEEJubilee Blueberry

Type: Southern Highbush

Season: Late Season

General Description: A late season, low chill (500 hours) southern highbush breed in Mississippi by Gupton, Spiers and Draper. Berries are medium, have a small scar with good colour, flavour and firmness. Flowers later that the earliest rabbiteyes but ripens two weeks earlier where it is grown in the USA. Requires good cross pollination to perform. The bush is upright, vigourous and productive.

District Suitability: Not Fully tested in New Zealand but being a southern highbush will perform best in northern sites with milder winters. Should flower and fruit with Magnolia, Brigitta and Lateblue.

Limitations:This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

MAGNOLIA

Type: Southern Highbush

Season: Late Season

General Description: Low chill (500 hours), late flowering southern high bush breed by Paul Lyrene out of the University of Florida. Flowers and ripens with Jubilee. Berries are medium, with a small scar and good colour, flavour and firmness. The bush has a spreading habit, is vigorous, productive and is of medium height. The plant needs good cross pollination to perform at its best.

District Suitability: Like Jubilee, would suit areas with milder winters. Should flower and fruit with Jubilee, Brigitta and Lateblue.

Limitations:This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

SIERRASierra Blueberry

Type: Northern Highbush with Rabbiteye ancestry

Season: Mid-season

General Description: High chill (1000+ hours) pentaploid breed by Draper and Jelenkovic from the University of North Carolina. Treated as a northern highbush but it has rabbiteye in its ancestry. Its genetics means it is largely infertile and will produce almost entirely seedless berries (<1 seed per berry). Medium to large berries with good firmness, scar and colour. Can make a very high quality berry and the firmness suits machine harvesting.  The bush is vigourous, productive and upright.

District Suitability: Sierra will suit areas that have over 1000 hours chill, preferably 1200+. Should flower and fruit with Nui and other main crop highbush.

Limitations: This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

LEGACYLegacy Blueberry

Type: Southern Highbush

Season:Late season

General Description: Higher chill (600-700 hours) southern highbush breed by Draper out of North Carolina State University. Medium sized berries with good firmness, excellent scar and superior flavour. The bush is vigorous, upright and can have a high yield. Has been a consistent performer in the US and it is considered one of the best commercial southern highbush cultivars. Pickers are known to refer to it as the ‘Gold Bush’ due to its heavy production. Can be machine harvested.

District Suitability: Not fully tested in New Zealand but should suit the central North Island southwards. Adapts well to most soils and cold to moderate climates. Should flower with Brigitta.

Limitations: This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

OLYMPIA

Type: Northern Highbush

Season: Mid-season

General Description: Mid-chill (700-800 hours) northern highbush breed by a grower, Joseph Eberhardt and originally released in 1933. The berries are medium to large, have average colour and scar with resistance to dropping and cracking. Consistently rated by growers and customers as the best tasting blueberry. 

The bush is spreading, vigorous and a moderate producer. Doesn’t perform well in frost prone sites and hard pruning is needed to force upright growth. If trained appropriately it is suited for machine harvesting and frozen packs (high brix, uniform size) as well as fresh market.

District Suitability: Not fully tested in New Zealand but should perform in all but the most northern blueberry growing areas. Should flower with Nui and other maincrop highbush.

Limitations: This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

SPARTAN Spartan Blueberry

Type: Northern Highbush

Season: Early-mid season

General Description: High chill (1000+ hours) northern highbush breed by Darrow and Elliot out of Maryland. Berries are large, attractive with firm flesh and very good flavour. One of the most attractive, easy to pick blueberry plants. The bush is upright, has moderate vigour, is hardy and its structure suits mechanical harvesting. The plant blooms late but fruits early, and is frost resistant. Requires a light, well-drained soil but once established at a favourable site it will perform very well. 

District Suitability: Will need 1000+ hours chill and appropriate soil to perform, but should do well in southern sites that require a hardier plant. Should flower and fruit with Duke.

Limitations: This variety is only available for Blueberries New Zealand Members.

OTHER VARIETIES

CENTURION

Type: Rabbiteye

Season: Mid-February – early April

General Description: Released in 1978 by the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station and USDA. Parentage W4 x Callaway. An excellent cropper producing large clusters of medium sized fruit (12-14mm). Fruit is firm but a little on the dark side. Has a good balance between fruitfulness and vigour. Late flowering variety.

District Suitability: Recommended planting for Waikato northwards as it may have problems maturing fruit in cooler districts.

DUKE

Type: Northern Highbush

Season: Early ripening with Nui and Reka

General Description: A heavy cropper, producing medium sized, medium blue fruit which maintains its size throughout the cropping season. Fruit is firm and has a notable crisp texture. Plants have a good vigour.Very popular commercial variety throughout the world.

District Suitability: Suitable for all districts from Waikato south.

MARIMBA

Type: Southern Highbush

Season: Early

General Description: Bred in Florida to be suitable for mild subtropical climates. Berries are smaller than Misty or O’Neal, similar to Jersey in size. Flowers are a little later than Misty and will need to be planted with a suitable pollinator for cross pollination purposes.

District Suitability: Suitable for northern districts from Waikato, north.

MARU

Type: Rabbiteye

Season: Late February – mid April

General Description: Released by Ruakura Research Centre in 1990. Parentage Premier OP (Tifblue x Homebell). Excellent late cropper with large very typical rabbiteye fruit. Outstanding characteristics is the cropping performance through April in the Waikato district. Large dark berries have a gritty texture and an obvious calyx scar similar to Tifblue. Bushes have an upright growth habit with berries well exposed.

District Suitability: Recommended planting for Waikato northwards as it may have problems maturing fruit in cooler districts.

Cultural Notes: Berries have a poor flavour if picked too early. Fruit should be left on bush for 7-10 days after turning blue. Bud thinning may be necessary in winter as this variety has a tendency to overcrop.

Propagation: This variety is protected under the plant propagation license, and can only be propagated by Licensed Propagators.

MISTY

Type: Southern highbush

Season: Early

General Description: Bred in Florida, is one of the second generation of southern highbush types and is considered a replacement for Sharpblue. Limited experience suggests excellent performance in terms of growth, crop yield and quality. Flowers early and will need to be planted with a suitable pollinator for cross pollination purposes (O’Neal or Marimba are likely candidates).

District Suitability: Suitable for northern districts from Waikato, north.

NUI

Type: Northern highbush

Season: Early, late November – early January

General Description: Released by Ruakura Research Centre in 1985. Parentage E118 (Earliblue x Ashworth) x Bluecrop. Produces early crops of very large berries, most between 16-20mm in diameter. Loose clusters of light blue fruit are borne on the outside of the canopy. Berries tend to be acidic during the early part of the season. Berries are firm with excellent keeping quality. Spreading leafy growth habit producing a smallish bush especially on mineral soils. Average yielding, tendency to be biennial.

District Suitability: Suitable for all districts from Waikato, south.

Cultural Notes: Slow establishment and responds to crop removal in the first two years after planting. Establishment can be difficult on mineral soils as it has a high requirement for organic matter. Recommended 1 metre plant spacing to maximise production on mineral soils.

O’NEAL

Type: Southern highbush

Season: Early

General Description: Considered the best low chill variety from the North Carolina programme. Berries are large, sweet and relatively firm.

District Suitability: Suitable for northern districts from Waikato, north.

POWDER BLUE

Type: Rabbiteye

Season: Late, late January – mid March

General Description: Released in USA in 1978 by the North Carolina experiment Station and USDA. Parentage Tifblue x Menditoo. Ripens with Tifblue. The most productive rabbiteye on the market. Produces large clusters of light blue fruit. Fruit size depends on the yield but most berries are between 11-13 mm in diameter. Berries are resistant to cracking and store well. Suitable for CA storage. Crops predominantly through February. As vigorous as Tifblue.

District Suitability: Suitable for all districts.

Cultural Notes: Crop second year after planting or crop two year old plants the season after planting to limit vigour. Limit nitrogen use particularly on peat soils. Has a tendency to overcrop necessitating fruit bud thinning during winter. May need support to hold fruiting canes up. Recommending plant spacing 1.5- 2 metres. Avoid high rates of nitrogen. Very susceptible to blast infection. Keep mulch materials which increase the humidity away from the base of the bush and use copper preventative sprays in autumn.

PURU

Type: Northern highbush

Season: Early-mid, early December – early January

General Description: Released by Ruakura Research Centre in 1985. Parentage E118 (Earliblue x Ashworth) x Bluecrop. Puru produces good crops of large light blue fruit with diameters ranging from 12-18mm. Fruit is firm and is of comparable quality to Bluecrop. Excellent flavour and one that is popular with Japanese consumers. Has an upright growing habit and a tendency to crop again in the autumn. Moderate to heavy yielding.

District Suitability: Suitable for all districts from Waikato, south.

Cultural Notes: Sets moderate numbers of fruit buds, mostly on terminals. Careful pruning needed to maximise fruitful buds. Recommended spacing of 1.2-1.5 metres between plants

RAHI

Type: Rabbiteye

Season: Early February – late March (2 weeks after Powder Blue).

General Description: Released by Ruakura Research Centre in 1990. Parentage Premier OP (Tifblue x Homebell). A moderate cropper with outstanding fruit quality. Loose clusters of firm, very light blue fruit are borne within the canopy. Most notable feature is the keeping ability of fruit with good retention of fresh market quality after 4-6 weeks storage. Vigorous upright growth habit. Berries are prone to splitting after heavy rain.

District Suitability: Recommended planting for North Island districts as it may have problems maturing fruit in cooler districts.

Cultural Notes: Allow to crop in the second season after planting to help control vigour. Summer pruning is needed to maximise bud set in the autumn.

Propagation: This variety is protected under the plant propagation license, and can only be propagated by Licensed Propagators.

REKA

Type: Northern highbush

Season: Early, late November – late December

General Description: Released by Ruakura Research Centre in 1985. Parentage E118 (Earliblue x Ashworth) x Bluecrop. The most productive of the early fruited varieties released by Ruakura. Large loose clusters of medium sized berries (12-14mm) reminiscent of Bluecrop. Berries tend to be darker than Puru or Nui but are firm and handle well. Suitable for CA storage or shipping. Flavour appeals to consumers. Outstanding plant vigour and adapted to minerals soils. Has an upright growth habit.

District Suitability: Suitable for all districts from Waikato, south.

Cultural Notes: It is necessary to thin fruit buds in winter as it has a tendency to overcrop. Recommended spacing of 1.2-1.5 metres between plants.

TORO

Type: Northern highbush

Season: Mid season (with Bluecrop)

General Description: A heavy cropper, producing large sized, medium blue fruit which has better flavour than Bluecrop. Fruit is borne in large clusters from a stocky plant similar to Nui. Expected to be a suitable replacement for Jersey.

District Suitability: Suitable for all districts Waikato, south.

Cultural Notes: Recommended 1 metre plant spacing to maximise production on mineral soils 

American HighBush Blueberry Production Guide

IVANHOE

Perhaps the best flavoured of the early varieties, it performs well in southern states. Plants are vigorous and fruit is small. Excellent for home gardens.

JERSEY

Has medium sized berries with firm flesh and fair flavour. Provides consistent yields across a broad range of conditions, provided that pollination is adequate. Plants are tall and upright, and adapted to mechanical harvesting.

PATRIOT

Fruit is large and firm with a small scar. Fruit must be completely ripe to have good flavour and sweetness. Bush is small to medium in height and grows slowly. Is hardy during winter, but blooms early and is subject to frost. More tolerant of heavier soils. Has some resistance to phytophthora root rot. Recommended for northern areas.

O’NEAL

A somewhat branching, semi-upright bush that produces very early yields of moderate sized fruit. Early bud break can result in cold damage in spring. Has a good scar and flavour and is very firm. Is resistant to stem canker. Needs approximately 500 – 600 hours of chilling.

BERKELEY

Berries are light blue, firm and very large, and store well even though they have a large stem scar. Winter hardiness is limited and flavour is only fair. Bush is moderately tall and spreading.

BLUECROP

Is the most widely grown variety in the world. Produces numerous medium-sized firm berries. Tends to over-produce if not pruned regularly. Its scar is small and its flavour is good. Is field resistant to shoestring and red ringspot virus, and is moderately resistant to mummy berry and powdery mildew.

BLUEJAY

Upright, open, rapidly growing bush that produces moderate yields of medium-sized, firm fruit that ships well. Has small stem scar and mild, slightly tart fruit. Is field resistant to shoestring virus and is moderately resistant to mummy berry.

BLUERAY

Fruit is large, dark blue and firm with good flavour. Consistently productive but may overproduce if not pruned regularly. Has an upright-spreading habit and is very hardy. Heavily bearing canes tend to flop.

DARROW

An upright bush producing very large flavourful fruit when fully mature. Recommended for home garden use in warmer areas.

DIXI

A vigorous, spreading, productive bush with highly aromatic fruit. The late-season fruit is very large but tends to crack and has a poor scar. Suitable for home gardens.

ELLIOT

Plants are very productive, but fruit may ripen too late for many northern areas. Considered the latest of all varieties. Also, berry is not fully ripe when it first turns blue. Fruit is small and has only a mild flavour, but is very firm and stores well. Plant is upright and somewhat bushy. It is widely planted.

HARRISON

A southern variety that is relatively firm with a small stem scar and good flavour, but does not ship well. Has a semi-upright, vigorous habit. Is resistant to stem canker and tolerant to bud mite, but very susceptible to phytophthora root rot.

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