Wednesday, 30 May 2012 03:00

Top Blueberry Varieties Chosen

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Grow Produce just posted this article about blueberry evaluations in California:

Top Blueberry Varieties Chosen -


We have visited these test blocks at the Kearney Field Station many times over the years and our selections for the Southern Highbush varieties for the warmer winter and hotter climate areas reflect our discoveries from these trials. I am happy we are in agreement with their findings!  Of course, test plots in more northern climates will have different choices.


By the way - it is a delight to participate in these taste tests!

Ron Ludekens 5-30-2012



In case the link gets broken in the future, the article is repeated below:



Top Blueberry Varieties Chosen

In California tasting, Southmoon variety rated tops in taste.


· Description:   Blueberry evaluation in California   Credit: Richard Molinar

Blueberry evaluation in California

The favorite blueberry varieties rated by 56 taste testers in California’s San Joaquin Valley for 2012 include Southmoon, Reveille, Biloxi, and Legacy. Following the top four were Jewel, Sharpblue, Misty, and Star. Most are Southern Highbush varieties, but some Northern Highbush varieties were also rated highly.

The organizer of the tasting, University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension Small Farms Advisor Richard H. Molinar, said it’s important to remember that taste tests are subjective, and that everyone has their own preferences. Some prefer sweet, some more acidic or tart. Other criteria that determine preferences include aroma, such as citrusy or floral, crunchiness, size, softness, stems attached, and appearance. “There is no right or wrong answer,” said Molinar, “but we do see trends.”

Flavor is of course affected dramatically by variety. Of the 62 varieties planted at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center in Parlier by Manuel Jimenez, farm advisor for Tulare County, 11 were available to sample at the May 23 Blueberry Field Day. Flavor is also affected by weather, soil factors, plant nutrition, and irrigation frequency. An exceptionally good tasting variety one year might be only mediocre the next.

According to Molinar, “when we first started this project 14 years ago, some of the recommended varieties for the San Joaquin Valley included Reveille and Georgia Gem. Then came Star, Oneal, and Misty as good choices. Now Emerald, Jewel, and Springhigh are the new kids on the block, along with Snowchaser. It doesn’t mean they are the best tasting. They might be higher yielding, ripen at a certain time, are more disease resistant, or have better postharvest quality, etc.”

Molinar said so many varieties are desirable because there are differences in when they ripen, flavor, or yield. Adaptation to a particular region or soil, shelf-life, adaptation to mechanical harvesting, and offering something new to buyers are all reasons for the different varieties. Growers might start picking May 15 with Snowchaser, and end with Centurion, a rabbit eye variety, in July. Molinar adds that his favorite variety has not changed for 10 years; it is still Southmoon. And is there agreement in the family? No, his wife prefers Sharpblue.

But do you ever see the variety names listed on the clam shells in the store? “Not usually,” says Molinar. “Oftentimes the varieties are mixed together at the packing facility, or the variety is just not named.  How many times do you go to the store and just see white peaches, or seedless personal watermelons, or strawberries? There are over 50 different white peaches grown in the valley. Buy locally from a roadside stand and chances are better you can find out the variety name.”

Source: Richard H. Molinar, University of California Cooperative Extension Small Farms Advisor