WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE
"ST" ). F FLOHIDA
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S' T.LL\H. \. :. ILOlRID.\
Bulletin No. 33 New Series August 1941
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
NATHAN MAYO, Commissioner
THE DREW PRESS, JACKSONVILLE 626881
Bulletin No. 33
Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the
Work Projects Administration
in the State of Florida
FEDERAL WORKS AGENCY
JOHN M. CARMODY, Administrator
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION
HOWARD 0. HUNTER, Commissioner
FLORENCE KERR, Assistant Commissioner
WILBUR E. HARKNESS, State Administrator
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Published by the
Florida State Department of Agriculture
Nathan Mayo, Commissioner
BLUEBERRIES have been cultivated in Florida for
more than half a century; yet, surprisingly, there
has been little authentic material written and
published about this agricultural activity. The
resultant difficulty in obtaining factual and statis-
tical data led to investigations which in turn dis-
closed the desirability of certain improvements
within the industry. These suggestions for the
betterment of blueberry cultivation, made by ex-
perienced and established growers and shippers,
are included in this bulletin. Comparative studies
of methods practiced in Florida and in other
states also have been presented. Appreciation is
hereby expressed for the services of Mr. Harold
Mowry, Director of the University of Florida Ag-
ricultural Experiment Station, chief consultant
for this manuscript. Especial credit is due
Herndon Cochran who prepared this booklet.
ROLLA A. SOUTHWORTH, CARITA DOGGETT CORSE,
Division of Community Service Programs. Florida Writers' Program.
WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION
j~~L ~.. i
A Blueberry Plantation in Northwest Florida
IN TRODUCTION .. . ............................... 9
IMPORTANT SPECIES ....................... .......... 11
Botany ........ ................................. 11
Lowbush Blueberry............................... 12
Highbush Blueberry ........ ................ . ...... 12
Rabbiteye Blueberry ................................. 13
Dryland Blueberry . ......... .................... .. ..14
Evergreen Blueberry ................................. 14
Mountain Blueberry .............. . ............ .14
FLORIDA CULTIVATED VARIETIES................... 15
Sapp Early ........... ........................... 16
Stokes .......... ................................... 16
Other Named Varieties of Rabbiteye Species .............. 16
Cultivated Varieties of Highbush Species ................ .17
Pioneer ......... ....................... ........... 17
Concord ........................................ 17
SOIL REQUIREMENTS .......................... ...... .18
PROPAGATION ...................................... 19
Selection of Stock ........................... ...... .. 19
Suckers ............................................ 21
Stem Cuttings................................... 21
Stumping ....................................... 23
Tubering .......................................... 23
R oot Cuttings . . ........ ............................ . 24
FIELD CULTURE..................................... 24
P planting Season ........... .......................... .. 24
Inclusion of Root Fungus ............................... 24
Age of Plants for Field ........................ ...... 25
Preparation of Land ............ ...................... . 26
How to Plant................................... 26
Pollination ........................................ 27
C ultivation . . ...... ............................... 28
Pruning ........................................ 28
Fertilizers ......................................... 29
Cover Crops..................................... 33
Mulching ....................................... 33
DISEASES AND PESTS ........ .... ... ........... 34
HARVESTING AND MARKETING ...................... 36
The H arvest Season .................................... 36
Picking the Fruit............... ..................... 36
Yields .......................................... 38
M marketing M ethods ........... ....................... .. 38
Berry Markets................................... 41
Costs and Returns ...................... . ... .. .42
FOOD VALUES AND RECIPES ........................ 43
CONCLUSION ........................................ 50
R EFER EN CES ........................... ..... . . .... 52
B ibliography ............................. ...... . 52
C on sultants .......... ........................ . ...... 53
With Special Reference to Florida Culture
Blueberries were a favorite food of the North American
Indians, who ate them as a fresh fruit in summer, and sun-dried
them for winter use. Early white settlers quickly discovered and
appreciated the flavor of the berries, and in regions where abund-
ant they have since been regarded as a staple article of diet.
The name "huckleberry" is commonly used in certain sections
of the country in referring to both blueberries and huckleberries.
Huckleberries, however, belong to a distinct genus (Gaylussacia),
the fruit having ten hard seeds or nutlets which produce a
marked gritty effect in mastication. Huckleberry leaves have
resinous dots or patches which resemble spots or flecks of
varnish. Blueberries have seeds so small and soft that they are
scarcely noticeable when being eaten. Many varieties of huckle-
berries have a delightful flavor, are gathered and sold from wild
patches, and have been transplanted to home gardens. But ex-
perimentation, extensive cultivation, and commercial plantations
have been concerned with true blueberries.
The eighteenth century botanists, John Bartram and his son
William, repeatedly noted in their writings the occurrences of
wild blueberries in Florida. A successful attempt to bring the
Florida berries into cultivation was made in the northeastern
part of the State near Whitehouse in 1887. About five years later
the commercial culture of blueberries in northwestern Florida
had its inception in the transplanting of selected wild stock to a
farm near Crestview. Both original plantations still bear satis-
factory crops of fruit annually.
Following the initial efforts at cultivation, a number of other
plantings were made from wild stock. In some cases only a few
plants, intended to produce fruit for home consumption, were
set out in garden plots. Commercial production was limited for
a number of years, the berries being sold in local markets where
they were in competition with low-priced wild fruit. Trial ship-
ments made to northern cities during the 1920 and 1921 seasons
brought such satisfactory returns that interest in Florida blue-
10 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
berry cultivation was suddenly intensified. This resulted in the
planting of considerable acreage, especially in northwest Florida.
An unfortunate feature of the awakened enthusiasm for blue-
berry cultivation was that a minor "boom" occurred in the pro-
motion of blueberry lands and the sale and setting of stock.
Thousands of plants were set out in the eastern, central and
south-central parts of the State, with little consideration for such
important factors as soil variation, soil acidity, and drainage.
Stock was removed from wild growth, often without any attempt
at selective care. Many plants were in poor condition when set
out, having been injured during removal from original place
of growth, through exposure of roots to wind and sun, and
through carelessness in packing and shipping. In some cases,
plants similar to blueberries in appearance when dormant, but
which were neither blueberries nor huckleberries, were dug and
transplanted as blueberry plants. Promoters and salesmen re-
ceived lucrative returns, but many planters suffered losses and
There are tracts planted to blueberries in nearly all counties
of north Florida, but commercial production is centered in
northwest Florida, with Okaloosa County leading in acreage.
No recent accurate survey of total acreage in the State is at
Experiments to improve blueberries through selection and
hybridization were begun in 1906 by Dr. F. V. Coville of the
United States Department of Agriculture, and have since been
continued by various Federal and State agencies as well as in-
dividual planters and nurserymen. As a result of these efforts
much vital information on many phases of blueberry cultivation
has been obtained, and a number of superior varieties have been
propagated. Unfortunately, most of these experiments have been
conducted in northern areas, under climatic and soil conditions
different from those of Florida, and with northern varieties
unsuited to Florida cultivation.
Commercial planters and shippers in Florida agree that
cultivated blueberries offer possibilities for profit even under
prevalent conditions of unselected plantings, diverse methods of
cultivation, lack of graded fruit, and the absence of supervised
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
While berries for home consumption may be easy to raise,
and in certain areas of the State bulk commercial production
may be attained without the discovery or observation of im-
proved cultural methods, fruit that will bring premium prices
and successfully meet competition in the leading markets of the
country cannot, usually, be grown in a haphazard manner nor
from unselected stock.
Individual experiments are being conducted in an effort to
improve Florida fruit and to find methods and varieties best
suited to local conditions, but more rapid strides toward im-
provement and stabilization of the blueberry industry might be
achieved through a greater co-operative activity.
Blueberry cultivation in Florida has been largely confined to
one species. Much of the following material, therefore, is in-
tended to provide only a general outline of the plant's impor-
tance in the United States, its geographic distribution, the
outstanding characteristics of the leading species, and their
The blueberry is of the genus Vaccinium, a member of the
Heath (Ericaceae) family,* which includes azaleas, mountain-
laurel, wintergreen, rhododendron, heather, trailing-arbutus and
other acid-soil plants. There are more than one hundred and
thirty species of the genus Vaccinium in the northern hemi-
sphere, ranging from the Arctic Circle to the summits of tropical
mountains; but only a few are of present interest commercially,
this number being even further restricted in cultivated species.
Leaves of the plant are alternate, short-stalked, and often
minutely hairy on the margins. Included in the genus are both
evergreen and deciduous species. The flowers are generally small,
not showy, and in the blueberry species, urn-shaped. There are
8 to 10 stamens; the fruit is a true, many-seeded berry, crowned
with the often persistent lobes of the calyx.
*Certain botanical listings place the genus Vaccinium in the family
12 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
The lowbush blueberry, the plants of which vary from 6 to 18
inches in height, is of economic importance from Maine to
Minnesota and southward in the Alleghenies to West Virginia.
It is harvested from native, unplanted fields. Although only a
small portion of the entire crop is harvested, it has an estimated
annual value of more than $5,000,000. Some care is given the
fields, especially in eastern Maine. This includes burning over,
mowing and grubbing as forms of weed control, pruning, and
dusting to control insects. Some selections have been made for
breeding, for it will cross with the highbush blueberry. It is an
upland species. The fruit is similar to that of the highbush
berry in flavor, is smaller, but ripens earlier than the latter.
The highbush blueberry, a native of swamps, moist woods,
and also moist open fields at high elevations, ranges from
southern Maine to southern Michigan and southward to Florida.
To some degree throughout its range, but most extensively in
aiNorth Carolina, it is gathered from the wild, the annual value
:of the crop possibly reaching $1,500,000. It is with the species
V. corymbosum L. that most work has been done in propagation,
hybrir ation, and the selection of named varieties. Extremely
variable in form, it reaches heights of from 10 to 15 feet, has
yellowish-green branches which turn to a light gray with age,
the bark on old stems becoming rough, and peeling. It is decid-
uous, the leaves narrow, usually egg-shaped and either smooth
or downy. The flowers are large and are borne on the extremities
of the previous season's growth.
Cultivated named varieties are raised commercially from east-
ern North Carolina northward to southern New England, in
New York, southern Michigan, and in western Oregon and
Washington. The estimated-acrag 9 was 2,000 acres in
/'NewJersey,200 acres in earth Carolina 200 acres it Michiganj
10 acres inall-otherStatw The val ue-oTfhe cultivated
crolp-iT938 was approximately $400,000.
It is believed that winters south of central Georgia are in-
sufficiently cold for breaking the rest period of the plant and
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
that present varieties are unsuited to Florida cultivation. One
grower in northeastern Florida, however, has specimens of two
named varieties which he has had under cultivation for several
years. They appear in excellent condition and have borne satis-
factory crops of fruit.
The rabbiteye blueberry," V. virgatum Ait. (regarded by cer-
tain authorities as a form of V. corymbosum L.) is native in
northern Florida, southern Georgia and Alabama. The United
States Department of Agriculture estimates that there are about
3,500 acres planted commercially, mostly in northwestern Florida,
but also in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mis-
sissippi, and Louisiana. The fruit is also harvested to some extent
from the wild.
Although its habitat in the areas where it is native is river
valleys, near swamps, and the edges of woods, the rabbiteye blue-
berry stands open field culture better than the highbush blue-
berry, surviving high temperatures and droughts of the Southern
States. In addition to commercial planting, it is recommended
as a home garden fruit in the South.
There is much variation within the species in foliage, and
growth, and in the size, shape and appearance of the fruit. Mature
plants attain a maximum of about 15 feet in height and 17 feet
in spread. The leaves, normally deciduous, are ovate to ovate-
oblong or elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate in shape, from 1 to 3
inches long, usually having serrate or serrulate margins. The
color and general appearance of the foliage on different plants is
The berries are black or blue-black; some having a heavy
bloom, or white waxy or powdery coating, while others have no
bloom. As with V. corymbosum L. the fruit is borne in clusters
on wood of the previous season's growth, the shape of the berries
being generally globular, but varying from oblate to ovate,
conic, or oblong-conic. The calyx is persistent, being in some in-
stances widely-flaring and in others almost entirely closed.
*Rabbiteye blueberries are also given such popular local names as Arab,
Tree, Swamp, Huckleberry, June, Stokes and Highbush.
14 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
While the flavor of the rabbiteye blueberry is generally
good, some plants bear fruit which is somewhat mealy or dry in
texture, the juice content being lower than is usually desirable.
This dryness is more marked in the fruit of younger plants.
There is also quite a difference to the taste in the acidity of
fruit from different plants. Fertilizers, soils and cultural methods
might explain some differences in fruit flavor, acidity, and tex-
ture; but inasmuch as these differences are also found in wild,
uncultivated plants it is suggested that they are merely further
indications of genetic variation.
The dryland blueberry, growing from 1 to 2 feet high, spreads
in colonies similar to the lowbush blueberry. It is commonly
called the "low huckleberry" and the "late blueberry," the
latter because it ripens later than either highbush or lowbush
species. It is gathered in northeastern Alabama and northwestern
Georgia northward to Maryland and West Virginia and west-
ward to western and northwestern Arkansas. The annual value
of the crop may average $300,000. The species does not cross
with the highbush blueberry.
The evergreen blueberry, native to the Pacific Coast from
central California to British Columbia, is harvested extensively
in northern California and-the Puget-Sound are>aThe annual
value of the fruit is between-k50,00~00 and $200,00.0- n open
woods the plants may reach a height of 20 feet. The berries,
ripening from August to November, are small, shiny black and
with an aroma unlike either the highbush or lowbush blueberry.
Carload lots of branches, sold for decorative purposes under the
name "evergreen huckleberry," and having an annual valuation
i equal to that of the fruit, are shipped each year to eastern cities.
The mountain blueberry, unlike most blueberries native in
America which produce fruit in clusters, bears fruit singly or in
two's. This prevents individual bushes from being highly pro-
ductive. It is considered the best-flavored and is the largest-
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
fruited of all wild blueberries in the United States. The annual
value of the crop may total $200,000. The plant is a native of
the high slopes of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Wash-
ington, ranging eastward to Wisconsin. Drought resistant, it will
mature fruit in late summer even after several rainless months.
In addition to the value of its fruit, it has importance as a for-
age plant for livestock.
FLORIDA CULTIVATED VARIETIES
Commercial plantations of blueberries in Florida consist
largely of plants taken from native growth of the rabbiteye
species. It is variously estimated that there are between 42 and
57 unnamed varieties of this species in the State, each with one
or more differences in growth-habits, appearance, bearing season,
and size, color, shape, flavor, and texture of fruit. Since many
growers planted stock taken from the wild in late fall and winter
without previous selective care, most Florida plantings contain
a mixture of unnamed varieties, some good and others relatively
Showing Variation in Size and Shape of Berries
16 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
A few growers, shippers, and nurserymen are endeavoring to
improve Florida fruit through close observation and the selec-
tion and tagging of individual plants which through their per-
formance over a period of several years indicate superior va-
rieties. These efforts are promising for the future improvement
of commercially cultivated blueberries in the State. Present re-
sults are apparent in a number of named varieties. The largest-
fruited selections, juicy, firm, and of good flavor, are probably
as valuable for commercial purposes as the best selections of the
wild highbush blueberry.
This fruit bears the family name of one of the first growers
in Florida to attempt the cultivation of blueberries. It is an
early variety, bearing the last week in May and ripening its
berries within a short period of time. Apparently it needs but
a short rest period. In areas subject to late frosts there is the
possibility of its buds being killed or injured by cold.
The Stokes blueberry is a popular local name for select stock
of the rabbiteye species originally transplanted from the wild in
northeastern Florida about 1887. The fruit is variable in size,
dark blue to black in appearance; its flavor more bland than
acid. The berries are somewhat susceptible to crushing, but keep
well without refrigeration for a week or so after picking. The
juice content is relatively medium in comparison to other va-
rieties. Stock has been supplied to growers in Florida, the Caro-
linas, Georgia, and New Jersey.
Other Named Varieties of Rabbiteye Species
The United States Department of Agriculture also lists the
following named varieties of rabbiteye blueberries:
Black Giant, which is early, large, fruits for nearly 60 days,
is one of the largest in bush size; Owens, a tall-growing variety
which has a very long season; Ruby, with bluish berries large in
size but possessing grit cells and not considered so well flavored
as several other varieties; Locke, which suckers freely and has
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
rather well-flavored fruit; Hagood, an early variety with a long
season; Okaloosa, which is very late in bearing; Myers; Scott;
Mineola; Anne; Jean; and Suwanee.
Cultivated Varieties of Highbush Species
As stated, the planting in Florida of named varieties and
hybrids of northern highbush blueberries has not been recom-
mended. Although they may be regarded as still in an experi-
mental stage, limited plantings in the State of at least two of
these varieties, are giving indications of healthy growth and
satisfactory productivity. These plants, of the following named
varieties, were set out in 1937 in northeastern Florida. Fruit of
the two varieties ripened at about the same time, harvesting of
crops from both being concluded by the last week in July.
Pioneer, so designated because it was the first named variety
as a result of blueberry breeding, was a first generation cross
made in 1912 between two wild highbush varieties. Its berries
are light blue in color, sweet, and of excellent flavor. When
fully ripe they are without acidity to the taste. The largest berry
on the original bush was 18.5 mm.* in diameter. Leaves of the
plant have no teeth on the margins.
The Concord blueberry has large clusters of berries, which,
all ripening at the same time, resemble clusters of Concord
grapes. A first-generation hybrid between the wild highbush
blueberries, Brooks and Rubel, it came from a cross pollination
in 1917. Concord berries have an excessive acidity when they
first turn blue, but much of this disappears if they are allowed
to remain on the bush until fully ripened. The ripe berries have
a delicious flavor. The berries in field culture sometimes reach
a diameter of 20 mm., and occasionally, 21 mm.
*Approximately 25.4 mm. equal one inch.
18 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
Wild blueberries flourish in soils which are quite acid. Re-
peated investigation has shown that this acid soil condition is a
prime requirement in their successful culture. Soil acidity is
measured by hydrogen ion concentration designated for con-
venience as pH. The scale used reads from 1 to 14, with 7 as the
neutral point. A reading above 7 shows alkalinity; below 7,
acidity.* Numerous tests, including ones made around satis-
factory commercial plantings in Florida, indicate that an acidity
of pH 5 to pH 5.5 is desirable for blueberry culture.
Peat and muck soils, poor sandy soils, and swamplands, unless
surrounded by limestone, are usually acid. A practical and rela-
tively inexpensive method of retaining or increasing soil acidity
used by many planters, especially of small tracts, is in mulching
with well-rotted hardwood sawdust, peat, or oak and pine leaf
mould. The oak and pine leaves should not be permitted to rot
too long, as they finally turn from an acid to an alkaline con-
Various chemical agents, such as tannic acid, sulphur and
aluminum sulphate can also be used to create or increase soil
acidity. These should be used cautiously, however, and are
recommended more for experimental work and small garden
tracts than for extensive plantations. Not more than 5 pounds
of aluminum sulphate to 100 square feet, spread and watered in,
should be employed. One experimental gardener has had suc-
cess in using approximately only a heaping tablespoonful of
this agent annually to each plant. Sulphur is also dangerous in
excess and not more than 3 pounds to 100 square feet should be
used. Tannic acid can be used more liberally, the application
being made with 1 part of tannic acid to 50 parts water.
Although blueberries grow wild near swamps and along the
banks of streams, they are not swamp plants. While they may
survive occasional flood by unusually high waters they will not
grow in swamps or other submerged lands. The water table
*A simple, inexpensixe test for either soil acidity or alkalinity can be
made with blue litmus paper, obtainable at any drug store. A piece of this
paper inserted into wet soil will remain blue if soil is alkaline; if soil is
acid, paper will turn pinkish, depth of color depending upon degree
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
should be at least 12 inches below the surface during the grow-
ing season of the plants. Good drainage and aeration are essen-
tial; the subsoil, however, should be of a type to prevent exces-
sive moisture loss during long periods of drought.
A sandy loam soil, well filled with humus, with a clay sub-
soil is considered ideal for growing blueberries. It has been said
that they will grow in almost any kind of soil, and it is true
that they have produced fairly satisfactory fruit crops in thinner,
lighter soils. But for maximum growth and berry production the
more nearly ideal soil types should be selected.-
The soils on which blueberries have been grown with greatest
success in Florida are generally upland soils of the Norfolk and
Tifton series, usually of Norfolk sand and sandy loams with a
clay subsoil at a depth of from 1 to 4 feet.
Blueberries do not usually succeed in ordinary rich garden
soils, which are often neutral or alkaline in reaction. Land which
has been limed for other crops should not be planted to blue-
berries. For the selection of land that has not hitherto been
under cultivation a good indication of its suitability is the wild
growth on the soil, of huckleberries, azaleas, laurels or other
relatives of the blueberry.
Blueberries can be propagated in a number of ways, including
seeds, cuttings, stumping, tubering, budding and grafting, and by
suckers which grow up around older plants. Plants grown from
seeds, however, have not proved very satisfactory, as they are
extremely variable and cannot be depended upon to reproduce
the qualities of fruit or plant from which the seeds were taken.
Grafting and budding may be of value in experimental work and
provide a rapid production of wood for cuttings, but such
methods of propagation are not otherwise recommended since
blueberry plants constantly send up new shoots from the base.
Selection of Stock
One of the disadvantages blueberry culture in Florida has
suffered has been due to carelessness, indifference, and lack of
standardization in the selection of stock which has been planted.
20 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
The result has been a great variation in quality, flavor, color,
and size of the cultivated fruit, and proper grading for market
has been generally impossible. This situation can only be im-
proved for the future through planting more nearly uniform
stock of high quality.
Original plantings were from wild growth, and this still offers
a relatively inexpensive and easily available source of stock for
Florida growers. Now, however, stock can be obtained also from
cultivated plantations, and to some extent from what might be
termed nursery plantings. There is variation in much of the so-
called "nursery" stock of the rabbiteye species, however, al-
though some of the leading growers have been making efforts
for a number of years to achieve select and dependable varieties.
In selecting stock, either from wild growth or from cultivated
plantings, close observation-for several years, if possible-and
the tagging of superior parent plants are necessary. Stock should
be taken from plants which most consistently show desirable
characteristics both in the plant itself and in its berry pro-
Some plants bear fruit which is an attractive light-blue in
color, due to density of "bloom" on the berries. To preserve uni-
formity in this color it is necessary that the branches of the
plant possess sufficient stiffness; flexible branches will sway in
the wind and the bloom on the clusters of fruit will be wiped
off, leaving the berries darker on one side than the other.
A heavy production of fruit naturally is desirable; and for
general marketing purposes the berries should be large in size,
rich in flavor, plump and succulent, and not subject to becoming
withered in appearance a few days after being picked. These
qualities make blueberries highly acceptable as fresh fruits,
eaten out of hand, or served with cream and sugar. Canned fruit
and that utilized in making jams, jellies and pastries, of course,
may not demand such complete superiority.
An important commercial consideration in the selection of
blueberry plants is the ease with which the fruit can be liar-
vested. The scar left on the picked berry should be small and
dry; this indicates ease in picking. If the skin at the base of the
berry tends to remain attached to the stem and is torn from the
fruit, remaining on the stem, the plant should be rejected. Plants
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
on which the stems of the individual berries separate more easily
at the base than at the upper joints, the stem remaining attached
to the fruit when it is picked, should not be selected. Plants on
which the ripe fruit shows a marked tendency to crack after a
rain are not desirable.
Propagation from suckers has been the method most com-
monly used by Florida growers, providing a relatively simple
and satisfactory way of obtaining planting stock. Suckers from
parent plants which have been selected and tagged or otherwise
marked for superior qualities are removed during the dormant
season. As much of the root as possible should be dug up with
the sucker. The top of the stock to be transplanted should be
cut back to within a few inches of the root. Experiments have
shown that sucker plants thus cut back make a much better
growth and are more productive than ones which have been
transplanted without having had the tops removed. The plants
can be placed directly in the fields, or in nursery rows. Nursery
planting in a soil mixture of peat, sand, leaf mould or rotted
sawdust helps the plants to develop a sound root system.
Stem cuttings provide another means of propagation. Winter
cuttings, made after the plant becomes dormant, should be taken
from mature wood of the preceding season's growth. The cut-
tings, preferably of thin wood with leaf buds close together, are
usually from 3 to 4 inches long, although fairly successful tests
have been made in rooting cuttings up to 12 inches in length
in clean, coarse sand. Many successful propagators insist that
the cutting should have a leaf bud at each end of the wood. No
twigs with fruit buds should be used. In obtaining the cutting,
clean short cuts with a sharp instrument should be made, and
care taken that the bark is not bruised nor the wood split or
It is especially important that the wood be prevented from
drying out while the cuttings are being handled or before they
are set in a rooting medium. Immediately after being cut they
should be placed in a wet towel or piece of burlap or plunged
into wet sand, sphagnum moss, or sawdust.
22 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
Both clean, coarse sand, and a mixture of half sand and half
peaty muck have been used in certain comparative tests, with
but slight difference in the percentage of cuttings rooted. In
these tests the cutting bed was outdoors, protected from wind by
a surrounding 12-inch frame. Cuttings from 8 to 12 inches long
were inserted approximately two-thirds of their length into the
sand medium; the cuttings tested in the peaty muck and sand
mixture were only from 4 to 6 inches long. Under the conditions
of these tests it was from 5 to 8 months before root growth
started, this being preceded for several weeks by a heavy callous
formation. Until the weather became quite warm, no shade was
used; then a half shade was provided by placing slats over the
Adequate moisture is necessary to the successful rooting of
cuttings and at no time should the soil be allowed to become
dry; but the cutting bed should be well-drained. The cuttings
should never be forced into the rooting medium, but should be
placed in already-prepared holes, and the soil tamped lightly
but firmly about them. Bruising must be avoided and the soil
must not be packed too hard against them. In early winter, after
a full season in the cutting bed, the rooted cuttings should be
transferred to the nursery row, where they are grown to field
In New Jersey, the Agricultural Station at New Brunswick
recommends a mixture of half sand and half well-rotted peat as
a rooting medium for cuttings. The coldframe type of cutting bed
is placed on porous soil elevated sufficiently for good drainage.
Cuttings are set about 1 inch apart in rows which are 2 inches
apart, watered to pack in place, and the frames covered with
glass. Excessive watering is avoided, but the soil is kept damp
at all times. Except on cloudy days the cutting beds are shaded
from about 9 o'clock in the morning until about 4 o'clock in the
afternoon. Soon after being set out, the cuttings send up a short
shoot at the top. During June this shoot stops growing and the
root growth starts. Until this time the glass cover has been kept
on the cutting frame. Ventilation is begun about the last part
of June, and is gradually increased until the glass is taken off
entirely, late in August. Successful root growth is indicated by
secondary top growth. The rooted cuttings can be removed
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
from the beds and placed in nursery rows the last of August.
They should be left in the nursery rows for about a year before
being planted in the field.
Blueberries are propagated successfully by a method called
"stumping." At any time from late fall to early spring, but
preferably the latter before growth starts, the parent plant is
cut back to the ground. The stems can be discarded, or used
for cuttings. The stump of the plant is covered to a depth of 2
or 3 inches with sandy soil, usually a mixture of from 2 to 4 parts
sand to 1 part sifted peat. A crude frame placed around the stump
will help in keeping this mixture at a fairly constant level
above the stump, a condition which is important. The mound
thus formed must be kept moist. Shoots or sprouts grow up from
the stump and in passing through the mixture above it develop
roots. The following winter these rooted plants are carefully
severed from the parent plant, their tops cut back severely,
and placed in a coldframe to further develop their root system.
The coldframe should be shaded, protected from over-ventilation
and heat, and the soil kept fairly moist. After a season in the
coldframe the plants can be removed to a nursery row.
In the method of propagation known as "tubering," hardwood
cuttings 3 or 4 inches long and from 1/-inch to an inch or more
in diameter are placed horizontally in cutting beds of clean
sand and covered to a depth of about 1/2-inch. The same prin-
ciple as that utilized in stumping is involved. New shoots forced
through a layer of soil develop scaly rootstocks on their basal
portions. As in stumping, sufficient moisture, and protection
against excessive heat and light must be provided. When the
new shoots have reached the rooting stage, half an inch of peat
and sand is added to the cutting bed. The plants should receive
very little ventilation until they are well-rooted.
24 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
Root cuttings also have been used in propagation. Roots of
large plants were cut into lengths of 3 or 4 inches, being of va-
rious sizes in diameter down to less than an eighth of an inch.
These cuttings were placed in coldframes and given the same
treatment as that employed in tubering. By using the roots
as well as the stems for cuttings it is possible to utilize more com-
pletely a parent plant of markedly superior qualities.
Field plantings of blueberries are made from autumn to early
spring, the time varying according to different climatic, weather
and plant conditions. Plants which have been pruned to brief
stumps can be more safely set out later than those with the
tops left on. In northern States, early spring planting is gener-
ally the practice. In Florida, many growers prefer setting the
plants in the field during December, January and February.
Plantings made in early winter provide time for the soil to settle
and the roots to make a better contact before spring droughts
and hot weather. This is considered especially important with
young plants which have been removed from nursery rows or
cutting beds and are transplanted without having the tops re-
The plants do not send out new roots in the spring until in full
leaf, when flowering is nearly or quite finished, and principal
twig growth has ceased. If excessively hot weather occurs before
newly set plants develop additional roots and the old root ball
thus has not made perfect capillary contact with the soil, it may
send up its stored supply of water to the leaves, contract, and the
rootlets remain permanently out of proper soil contact. Thus the
plant might suffer from drought even when the soil held sufficient
Inclusion of Root Fungus
Some Florida growers regard the blueberry as sufficiently hardy
to survive and grow despite adverse conditions and indifferent
methods. This attitude is not to be recommended for success in
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
their culture. Precautions in planting lessen the percentage of
failures. Especial care should be taken to prevent damage to
roots through bruising, excessive heat and allowing them to dry
out. The necessity of a mycorrhizal root fungus is discussed in the
following paragraphs from Florida Agricultural Experiment
Station Bulletin 194, and a suggestion is given for its insurance in
The presence of a mycorrhizal root fungus is com-
monly considered necessary to the maximum develop-
ment and thrift of blueberry plants. The fungus is
supposed by many to aid in the absorption of nutrients
by the plant while being in turn partially nourished by
the plant. The roots of a large number of wild and
cultivated rabbiteye blueberry plants have been ex-
amined and the fungus has been found without exception
on every specimen. It would seem that under like en-
vironmental conditions, those plants having the most
vigor would normally have the greatest amounts of this
fungus if it plays as important a role as is commonly
ascribed to it. This has not proven to be the case with
the specimens examined, there being no correlation
between growth of the plant and the amount of the
fungus. Wide variation was found in the amount. of
fungus present but this variation could not be correlated
with the condition of the plants; some of the very thrifty
plants had very small amounts of the fungus, others a
great deal, while some very poor plants had as much of
the fungus as any plant examined.
If the presence of this fungus is necessary for the
maximum development of the plants it is quite probable
that the roots of all plants dug from the wild are plenti-
fully supplied. In the event rooted cuttings are planted,
the fungus may be easily introduced by including some
roots from old plants with the roots of the cuttings at
the time of planting in the field. Such roots should be
some of the finer fibrous roots and should not be allowed
to become completely dried out in transferring.
Age of Plants for Field
Nursery stock should be at least two years old when placed
in field plantations. Some growers prefer plants that are three
or four years old. It is evident that no plants should be placed
in the field until they have reached sufficient strength and root
26 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
growth to survive field conditions. Where there is a question
of their fitness, it is better to let them remain in nursery rows
for an additional season's growth.
Preparation of Land
In some Florida areas but little preparation of the land is
made before field planting. Any trees or undergrowth, of
course, should be removed. The soil is broken, disked lightly,
leveled by dragging, and planting distances staked off. If the
field has a relatively deep layer of peat above sand, the plough-
ing should have been done deeply enough to mix at least two
inches of the sand with the peat. On the other hand, if the land
is very sandy, leaf mould, peat, rotted sawdust or hammock
soil may be added at the time of planting, being mixed into
the sand in the vicinity of each plant. Where the water level
is very high, or there is any danger of water standing on the
surface, especially during the growing season, drainage should
How to Plant
There exists considerable disagreement as to the proper spac-
ing of plants in the field. Some Florida growers assert that
a distance of 12' in both directions between plants is adequate;
others state that distances should be 18' x 18'. The Florida Agricul-
tural Experiment Station has suggested that the minimum spacing
between plants probably should be 15' x 15', and that if desired the
rows may be placed 20' apart, with closer spacing of the plants
within the row. Variation in spacing may have a relation to
growth habits in different species, soil condition and pruning,
the latter having been but little practiced in Florida while
being more generally the custom in northern culture. Many
Florida growers report that where plants have been set too
close together in the past the resultant overcrowding as growth
occurred has seriously interfered with cultivation and harvesting.
It is also possible that such overcrowding might tend to lower
the fruiting capacity of the plants.
The following table, which includes only spacings generally
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
advised for Florida plantings, shows the approximate number of
plants per acre in different systems of planting:
Distance Apart Triangular Rectangular Hexagonal
10 x 10 ft. 396 436 501
12 x 12 ft. 275 303 348
15 x 15 ft. 175 193 217
15 x 10 ft. 164 290 *
18 x 18 ft. 122 134 142
20 x 15 ft. 132 145
Plants are set between 4 and 12 inches deep, but a depth
between 6 and 8 inches is usually advisable. Planting too shal-
low should be avoided. In transplanting stock from wild growth
the planter should realize that the shallow rooting habit of
the wild plants commonly noticeable arises from the fact that
they are often found growing on land subject to overflow and
which has a high water table much of the time. The roots of the
plant are close to the surface in order to obtain necessary aeration.
Such adverse conditions should not prevail in field culture, and
consequently, the plants can be rooted deeper. One Florida
grower has found a depth four inches greater than that of its
native habit usually satisfactory in transplanting root stock from
the wild to the field. Nursery plants should be set at least
an inch deeper than they were in the nursery row. It is some-
times the practice in field planting to leave a shallow earth basin
around each plant as it is set in the ground, providing a natural
receptacle for humus and water. Where practical, and especially
during very dry weather, newly-set plants should be watered
three times a week until they begin to grow.
Blueberries are pollinated by bumblebees, and various insects
small enough to enter the narrow opening of the corolla. The
tongue of the honeybee is too short to easily reach the nectar.
Cross pollination is necessary for blueberries to set a full crop
of fruit. Experiments have shown that some bushes are com-
pletely sterile to their own pollen, while others which were self-
pollinated produced berries that were small, few in number,
and late in maturing. This unfavorable reaction occurs where
*In the hexagonal system only equidistant spacing is applicable.
28 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
pollination is between plants removed from the same parent
stock, or between the parent and plants grown from its cuttings.
A plantation, therefore, should not be made wholly from cuttings
taken from one bush. A field should contain at least two va-
rieties, preferably set in alternate rows. It has not been im-
portant in the past for Florida growers to give cross pollination
consideration as the plantations have contained a number of
varieties; but if selected plantings are to be made from blueberries
of known parentage, care should be taken that more than one
variety is placed in the field.
Blueberries should be cultivated frequently enough to keep
down weed growth and supply aeration to the roots of the plants.
A heavy growth of weeds absorbs plant food and moisture needed
by the blueberries. Clean culture should be employed for a
distance of several feet around each bush. To protect the roots,
tillage, whether by hand hoeing or by the use of an acme harrow
or other form of cultivator, must be shallow. Cover crops, when
planted, are seeded between the rows and turned into the soil
by light disking in the fall.
Pruning has not been a universal practice among Florida
planters and what work has been done in this respect has been
confined generally to removing dead wood, cutting back to con-
trol height and promote new growth, and the removal of suckers
from around the base of the bush. Results are not available from
any possible experiments in pruning Florida blueberries so that
a smaller number of fruit buds may produce larger and more
In many instances older plants which were cut back severely
have yielded a much heavier fruit crop the second or third year
after pruning. It is advisable to prevent the too extensive
growth of suckers springing up around the base of the bush,
especially if the plants have been set very closely together. On
some plantations bushes are permitted to reach approximately
three feet in diameter; thereafter any additional suckers which
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
spring up around the bushes are removed, these often being util-
ized in new plantings. Cutting back the tops of older plants makes
the fruit accessible from the ground, and thus makes harvesting
easier. Opinions as to the best height of bearing bushes vary,
ranging in selection from 3 to 5 feet. Some growers cut away
two-thirds of the bush every few years, while others, practicing
"crown cutting," cut off the entire bush to one-half inch beneath
the surface of the ground every 12 to 15 years.
In northern areas, pruning is regarded as an essential to com-
mercial success. Older, bushy branches which produce but
little fruit, yet absorb much of the plant's nutrition and moisture,
are removed. Fruiting shoots with too many fruit buds are
thinned or cut back, and fruiting is generally confined to
the more vigorous and younger shoots. In some select varieties
the number of fruit buds is reduced as much as one-half or two-
thirds to insure the production of the most desirable fruit.
If experiments in pruning are made by Florida planters, sev-
eral points should be remembered. It is the new growth on the
blueberry plant which produces the next season's fruit. Pruning
should be done after the leaves fall and before new growth
starts in the spring; the season's growth may be greatly re-
tarded if the plants are not pruned before blossoming time,
especially when severe cutting is done. (One Florida grower
who merely trims out undesirable sprouts and cuts back the
highest limbs of the bushes advises that pruning should not be
done later in the year than February.) New shoots usually
need but very little bud thinning. In "tipping back" sprouts
to decrease buds it is necessary to distinguish between fruit buds
and leaf buds; the former are much plumper than the latter,
the leaf buds being relatively small and narrow.
In Florida there exists a diversity of opinion among growers
as to fertilizer requirements for the culture of blueberries. In-
asmuch as there is not at this time sufficient experimental data
available to provide exact standards for Florida soils and plant-
ings, only the varying practices of different leading planters,
together with fertilizer formulas and methods found satisfactory
in other States, can be presented. Through cautious experiment
30 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
the grower may discover from these the type and amount of fer-
tilizer-if it is needed-for the particular soils which he has
One blueberry plantation in northeastern Florida has thrived
for many years, the only soil additions being made through the
turning under of weed and grass growth, with an occasional
thin application of poultry fertilizer. It is the contention of
the experienced owner that the application of fertilizer is other-
wise unnecessary. On another and smaller tract in northeastern
Florida blueberry plants have flourished and fruited satisfactorily
with regard to size, flavor, color and quantity of berries with
the annual application just before the buds break in the spring
of one-half to a pound, to each plant, according to its size, of
formula 4-8-8 (4 per cent nitrogen, 8 per cent phosphoric acid,
and 8 per cent potash.)
A number of successful blueberry orchards in the State were
fertilized the first four or five years after planting with 4-8-4. As
the plants grew older the potash was increased so that the formula
used was 4-8-6 or 4-8-8. When plants were first placed in the
field they each received fertilizer at the rate of one-half to a
pound per plant. When the plants were two years old each was
given 11/2 to 2 pounds of fertilizer. The amount was further
increased the third year, when each plant received 21/, to 3 pounds,
according to its size. It has been suggested that fertilizer be
applied to the fields at the rate of from 500 to 800 pounds per
acre, the amount varying according to the age and size of the
plants. The owner of one of the oldest commercial orchards in
the State, however, using a formula of 8-4-6, applies only 100
pounds of fertilizer to the acre every two or three years. It is
a generally accepted practice to apply fertilizer in the spring,
often in March or April.
The following recommendations are from Blueberry Culture,
a bulletin issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry, United States
Department of Agriculture:
On fertile soils very little fertilizer may be required,
while on poor soils large amounts may be necessary to
maintain satisfactory growth. In Michigan superphos-
phate up to 670 pounds per acre has given good results.
In New Jersey and North Carolina, in localities where
blueberries are now planted, nitrogen has seemed most
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
often the limiting element. It is suggested that one ap-
plication, 400 to 600 pounds per acre of a complete fer-
tilizer (about 5-10-5) be made in the spring at the time
the buds are starting. This should be followed by an
application of 150 pounds of nitrate of soda or calcium
nitrate about 6 weeks later if the soil is quite acid or an
equivalent amount of sulfate of ammonia (110 pounds)
if the soil is not very acid, and then one or two more
applications at intervals of 6 weeks. The more fertile
fields should not have the later fertilizer applications.
If the foliage shows chlorosis or yellowing, sulfate of
ammonia should be used instead of nitrate of soda as a
source of nitrogen. If this does not control the yellow-
ing, possibly some of the so-called rarer elements may be
lacking. Where the leaves are not of the usual green
color tests may be made of iron, tin, copper, boron,
zinc, and magnesium to see if one of these is needed.
As a result of nine years of investigation, the New Jersey
Agricultural Experiment Station recommends a fertilizer mixture
composed of 450 pounds nitrate of soda, 450 pounds calcium ni-
trate, 800 pounds rock phosphate, and 300 pounds sulfate of pot-
ash. For plants producing 2 quarts or more of berries, this fertilizer
is applied at the rate of 300 pounds per acre early in May, and
again at the same rate three weeks or more later. Broadcast by
hand, the mixture is spread evenly over the area under the
branches of the plant except within six inches of the crown.
Hand raking or other cultivation to mix the fertilizer into the
soil is used unless a rain follows the application. In fertilizing
newly planted fields the New Jersey Experiment Station urges
caution, limiting the amount of materials applied to not more
than 100 pounds to each acre, with the application being made
only after the plants have shown new growth.
In Maine, cottonseed meal has been used, being applied at
the rate of 200 pounds per acre. Experiments with complete
fertilizers are also being conducted in that State with an appli-
cation of 400 pounds per acre. The University of New Hamp-
shire Extension Service advises that no fertilizer should be used
the first year and that none or very little be applied the second
growing season; that the following season a medium handful may
be applied to each plant, and that after the third year the amount
can be gradually increased and broadcast between rows.
32 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
Inasmuch as it has been considered of prime importance in
successful blueberry culture that soils be kept acid, this may be
regarded to some extent as a limiting factor in the composition
of fertilizer materials used. The following paragraphs, from
Soils and Men, Yearbook of Agriculture (1938) issued by the
United States Department of Agriculture, indicate soil reaction to
different fertilizer materials:
It has been found that . materials, such as am-
monium sulphate and sodium nitrate, which chemically
are neutral salts and themselves exhibit no marked
alkaline or acid character . have an ultimate effect
upon soil reaction. Since this is not shown immediately
upon application to the soil but develops during the
course of utilization of the nutrient elements by the crops,
it is termed "residual effect." It has been explained as
caused by preferential intake by the plants of certain
elements over others. Thus, in the case of sodium nitrate
the nitrogen as the acidic nitrate ion is utilized to a
greater extent than the basic sodium ion, which is left to
neutralize other acidic ions originally in the soil, so that
the ultimate residual effect is a decreased acidity or in-
creased alkalinity of the soil.
In the case of fertilizer materials the nitrogen of which
undergoes nitrification, an additional factor is the con-
version of this nitrogen into the acidic nitrate ion, which
as it is formed neutralizes bases in the soil. Thus, in
the case of ammonium sulphate, the basic ammonium
ions are converted into acidic nitrate ions, and both these
and the residual acidic sulphate ion neutralize bases so
that the residual effect is an increased acidity or de-
creased alkalinity of the soil. Nitrogen is therefore to be
considered as an acidic element regardless of its form
in the fertilizer material, whether ammoniacal, nitrate,
organic, or amide.
The potash salts customarily used for fertilizer pur-
poses have been found not to affect soil reaction ma-
terially, though wood ashes and potassium nitrate,
neither of which finds extensive employment as a ferti-
lizer material, cause a decrease in soil acidity. The
results of long-continued plot tests have shown that super-
phosphate has no appreciable effect on soil reaction.
The foregoing material would suggest the superiority of sul-
fate of ammonia to nitrate of soda as a source of nitrogen where
it is desired to maintain or increase soil acidity. Lime should
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
never be applied to land selected for blueberry culture, nor is the
application of ashes advisable. The use of stable manure is
usually satisfactory on most woody plants.
Cover crops are grown on many Florida blueberry planta-
tions and are recommended for adding nitrogen and organic
matter to the soil, aiding in the retention of adequate moisture,
and preventing the loss of humus through excessive cultivation
and sunshine. Leguminous cover crops are especially desirable
for increasing both organic matter and nitrogen, often of low
content in the sandy soils where blueberry plantings have been
made. Non-leguminous crops, while adding organic material, in
many cases temporarily reduce nitrogen in the soil by utilizing
that already present in effecting the decay of added soil mi-
In some plantations the only soil additions made by the
planter are through the growing and disking in of leguminous
cover crops, no commercial fertilizer being used. Even where
the use of commercial fertilizer is practiced, however, cover crops
are important in retaining and increasing organic matter which
contains the bacterial life necessary for the satisfactory utili-
zation of the fertilizer materials.
A wide variety of cover crops, including crotalaria, carpet
grass, cowpeas, soy beans, beggarweed, and Austrian winter peas,
are grown by Florida planters. Crotalaria, an annual legume
well suited to sandy soils of low fertility, is the choice of many
leading growers. Although it is usually planted any time from
March to June, one grower in northwestern Florida plants cro-
talaria as late as the first of July. A possible objection to the early
spring planting of some cover crops is that they may interfere with
harvesting the fruit and at the same time be trampled upon and
damaged by the pickers. Cowpeas, which can be planted in July,
furnish a leguminous cover crop without serious interference to
the berry harvesting.
As mentioned with regard to preserving or increasing soil
acidity, mulching with peat, well-rotted hardwood sawdust, or oak
and pine leaf mould is used by blueberry planters. Mulches of
34 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
such materials are especially good in poor sandy soils and for
starting young plants. Where a natural growth of grasses and
weeds has been permitted to take place in blueberry fields
this can be mowed and left spread over the ground, forming some
protection against excessive moisture loss during dry, hot periods.
DISEASES AND PESTS
Florida blueberries have been remarkably free from serious
insect infestation and disease. A rust, Pucciniastrum myrtilli,
apparently of but very little economic importance, has been
found in many plantings, and larvae, as yet unidentified, have been
reported as causing slight damage to foliage of a young plantation
in the northeastern part of the State. The blueberry fruit fly,
the stem borer, stem gall, and other injurious diseases and pests
which have attacked blueberry plantations in several States have
not as yet become troublesome to Florida growers. It is consid-
ered advisable, however, that planters take the precaution of
preventing the possibility of dangerous infestation by observing
and reporting to State or Federal agricultural agencies the oc-
currence of disease symptoms or the appearance of new and un-
usual insect life in their plantings. The New Jersey experiment
station* lists several pests and diseases, some of which are no
importance in Florida, with habit-identification and suggestions
for control, as follows:
BLUEBERRY FRUIT FLY
The most serious insect pest of blueberries is the
blueberry fruit fly (Rhagoletis pomonella Walsh), the
larva of which is active inside the ripe fruit. Infested
fruit is, of course, unmarketable.
In New Jersey, the flies emerge from overwintering
puparia from June 15 to July 15, mostly between June
20 and July 5. After flying about for 10 to 12 days, they
start to lay eggs in the ripe or ripening fruit. The eggs
hatch in two to five days, and the larvae are mature in
about 20 days when they enter the ground, pupate, and
remain dormant until the next year.
The adult flies can be killed before they lay eggs by
dusting the field with ground derris (5% rotenone) 10-15
pounds to the acre, once on June 30 and again 10 days
*Blheberry Culture, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, New
Brunswick, New Jersey, Circular 229, April 1937.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
later. Usually the treatment is made by airplane or auto-
giro. If a hand machine is used, a diluent should be
added in order to get sufficient distribution.
The young stems of the blueberry plant are often
girdled during late June or July three or six inches
from the tip. Two parallel girdles or rings of punctures
are cut around the stem about a half-inch apart between
which an egg is laid under the bark. The grub hatching
from the egg is the stem borer (Oberea myops. Wald). It
tunnels the stem and if undisturbed will work for three
years before emerging as an adult. The first year it
tunnels but a few inches. The second year it may reach
the base of the plant, and the third year it will appear
in another stem.
Cutting off the wilted tips well below the girdled
area during July will keep this pest under control. Any
missed at this time may be found while pruning. No
tunneled shoot should be left on the bush. The cut pieces
may be thrown between the rows as the borer cannot
get back to the bush.
The common insect gall on blueberries is caused by
Hemadas nubilipennis Ashm. They become numerous
enough to reduce the fruitfulness of the bush if al-
lowed to reproduce undisturbed. However, the control is
simple. The galls should be cut from the bushes and
removed from the field and destroyed during the winter
pruning. The flies emerge and reinfest the plant if the
galls are allowed to remain on the damp ground.
With regard to the identification and control of any possible
insect infestation it may be well for the grower to bear in mind
that despite the many varieties, insects can be divided broadly
into two classifications, each requiring a particular method of
control. The chewing type of insect shreds foliage and turns
leaves into lacy outlines. Stomach poisons, such as those of the
arsenical group, are used to combat these pests. The sucking
type of insect inserts a probosis into the plant and draws the
plant juices from below the surface of the foliage. Because
of the way in which it feeds, the sucking type avoids stomach
poisons which have been sprayed on the surface of leaves, and
36 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
to control it is necessary that suffocating or paralyzing agents
such as rotenone base sprays or dusts, nicotine sulphate, soaps,
oil emulsions or pyrethrum be sprayed so that they come into
direct contact with the insect.
HARVESTING AND MARKETING
The Harvest Season
In Florida, blueberries begin to ripen as early as the middle of
May, the season of ripe fruit running through June, July and
August, and sometimes extending into the first part of Sep-
tember. The most intensive harvesting, however, generally oc-
curs from early in June to the middle of July.
When the berries first turn blue they are still sour, it being
necessary to leave them on the bush a week or so longer before
they are ready to pick. An under-ripe berry shows a purplish
color around the scar where it is separated from the stem. In
fully ripe fruit the scar has the same color as the rest of the
berry. The clusters do not ripen evenly, a few berries maturing
at a time, usually beginning with the largest fruit at the tips
of the clusters.
Picking the Fruit
Harvesting should begin promptly as soon as the fruit starts
to ripen. In the past, much of this labor has been done by
women and children. One picker can usually gather between
20 and 30 quarts of berries in a day, although under favorable
conditions it is possible for a picker to harvest as much as 40
quarts daily. By observing the berry color, which normally is
blue or black, and by a sense of touch from feeling the clusters,
the picker readily distinguishes the fruit which is ready to harvest.
To avoid loss through decay while being shipped, the surface
of the fruit should be free from moisture when it is picked.
The pickers work daily during the season, removing the
fruit from different bushes. Repeated picking from the same
bush is occasionally required every other day, but more often
necessary but once a week; this being governed, of course, by the
speed with which the fruit is ripening.
In one of the older methods of Florida harvesting the picker
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
uses a gallon can, or other container, swung at his waist by a
cord or strap around his body. The fruit is "rolled" off the stem
by a movement of the hand. An easy pulling or wiping motion
is used, the curved hand of the picker lightly grasping the
cluster and brushing toward the open container. The ripe berries
roll off easily. Without expert care, this method, while speedy,
increases the possibility of bruised, torn or otherwise damaged
berries as well as the inclusion of twigs, leaves and immature
fruit in the container. It is necessary to cull and repack the
ripe fruit for shipment.
A more desirable method, from several standpoints, is to
pick carefully selected berries from the cluster directly into
shipping "cups." If the picker avoids mixing leaves, stems or
other trash with the fruit, and his work is supervised and in-
spected, the necessity of culling and repacking is eliminated.
It is naturally to the interest of the grower and shipper that the
harvesting be done in such a way as to avoid as much injury as
possible to both immature and ripe fruit.
I l " :
I- 4 V
Harvesting the Blueberry Crop
38 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
The amount of fruit to be obtained from cultivated blueberries
is dependent upon so many factors that conclusions can only be
suggested by reported yields from various plantings. Authentic
reports have been made of plants between 11 and 15 years old
which produced as much as 60 quarts of fruit in a season. This,
however, is exceptional productivity, and such yields should
not be expected in the average field planting. On one of the
oldest plantations in northeastern Florida the top production
of the individual bushes has been 25 quarts in a season.
No fruit is produced the first season after the plants are set.
Some berries will be borne by flourishing plants the second
season, but commercial production is not reached until the third
or fourth year. By the fifth or sixth year plants may be pro-
ducing from 4 to 7 quarts of berries. The yield usually in-
creases annually until the plants reach maturity at 12 to 15
years of age. Strong, mature plants under favorable conditions
should yield between 12 and 16 quarts of fruit.
From one small Florida planting a yield of 2 quarts from
each bush was received the second season after the plants were
set out. A 1-acre tract containing 462 plants yielded an average
of 5 quarts per plant in the fourth season.
Production records of Florida plantings compare favorably
with yields from selected plants in New Jersey, as given in the
following excerpt from a bulletin issued by the Maine Agri-
cultural Experiment Station at Orono, Maine:
First year .......... no crop
Second year..-.. .... ... no commercial crop
Third year ----.... --.- 30 crates per acre
Fourth year-. -- ...-- ----. 80 crates per acre
Fifth year -----.. .. -------.. ---.- 100 crates per acre
Yields of 100 crates may be obtained on the best farms under
good conditions but most growers probably will not obtain
over 80 crates.
Blueberries are marketed in both pint and quart containers
which are similar to strawberry cups, except for the wide corner
cracks of the latter. Shipping crates contain either 16 or 24
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
cups. Retailers often prefer pint cups, while hotels and res-
taurants generally purchase the quart-size containers. A 24-pint
display crate opens at the side to show the fruit in cellophane-
The fruit is packed by shippers at warehouses, or by the
grower who ships direct. Although with careful packing and
prompt handling it can be transported to distant points without
icing, much of the fresh fruit is shipped by refrigerated truck
or railway express.
Florida blueberries are not handled through co-operative as-
sociations, and there is no established grading of the fruit. In
the northern markets, however, the Florida berries are placed
in competition with graded fruit from States which do have
co-operative marketing associations. The following requirements,
for instance, listed in New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station
Circular 229, are the standards for graded fruit handled by the
Blueberry Cooperative Association. HARVEST MOON is their
highest grade; GREENLEAF is second grade; and STAR is their
third grade. Fruit below the standards set for STAR is sold
-^ -A- ==1 --.7. (.-
Blueberries Are Marketed in Crates of Pint or Quart Containers
40 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
HARVEST MOON shall consist of cultivated blue-
berries of similar varietal characteristics which are firm,
well formed, well colored, with normal bloom, and not
over-ripe, under-ripe, or shriveled; which are reasonably
free from stems, and free from mould, decay, dirt, sand
or other foreign matter, moisture, disease, insect, me-
chanical or other injury. There shall not be more than
140 blueberries, reasonably uniform in size, to the 2-gill
measure. The cups shall be new, clean, well filled,
securely covered with transparent paper or other similar
material, and sealed.
In order to allow for variations other than size incident
to proper grading and handling, not more than 5 per
cent, by volume, of the blueberries in any lot may be
below the requirements of this grade, but no part of this
tolerance shall be allowed for mold or decay. One-
fifth of a 2-gill measure shall constitute 5 per cent of one
quart, by volume.
GREENLEAF shall consist of cultivated blueberries
of similar varietal characteristics which are firm, well
formed, well colored with normal bloom, and not over-
ripe, under-ripe, or shriveled; which are reasonably free
from stems, free from mold or decay and from damage
caused by dirt, sand or other foreign matter, moisture,
disease, insects, mechanical or other means. There shall
not be more than 200 blueberries, reasonably uniform in
size, to the 2-gill measure. The cups shall be new, clean,
well filled, securely covered with transparent paper or
other similar material, and sealed.
In oder to allow for variations other than size incident
to proper grading and handling, not more than 5 per
cent, by volume, of the blueberries in any lot may be
below the requirements of this grade, but no part of this
tolerance shall be allowed for decay. One-fifth of a 2-
gill measure shall constitute 5 per cent of one quart, by
STAR shall consist of cultivated blueberries of similar
varietal characteristics which are well formed, well col-
ored, and not under-ripe or shriveled; which are rea-
sonably free from stems, mold, or decay and from dam-
age caused by dirt, sand or other foreign matter, disease
or insects. There shall be not more than 200 blueberries,
reasonably uniform in size, to the 2-gill measure. The
cups shall be new, clean, well filled, securely covered
with transparent paper, and sealed.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
In order to allow for variations other than size in-
cident to proper grading and handling, not more than
5 per cent, by volume, of the blueberries in any lot may
be below the requirements of this grade, but no part of
this tolerance shall be allowed for decay. One-fifth of
a 2-gill measure shall constitute 5 per cent of one quart,
Florida blueberries are shipped to many markets in various
parts of the United States, the bulk of the fruit being disposed
of in such large cities of the East and mid-West as New York
City, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland. While one leading
planter of the most intensive commercially productive section
of the State-northwestern Florida-estimates that 99 per cent
of the berry crop is sold in these distant markets, there is much
fruit that is utilized locally. Planters of small tracts, some no
larger than domestic garden plots, in addition to the home con-
sumption of their crop as fresh fruit or in pastries and the
kitchen canning of berries, jams and jellies, sell to nearby res-
taurants, hotels and retail and wholesale markets.
Experiments are being conducted in Florida with frozen blue-
berries as a commercial product, and some frozen fruit has been
shipped. The following conclusions in regard to frozen berries
are from the Georgia Experiment Station Bulletin 166; the refer-
ence to the availability of peach-freezing plants in that State
should be noted:
The operation of freezing must be done by refrigerator
engineers with highly specialized equipment. Frozen
berries are a new product to the public. While freezing
was originally intended to take care of surplus berries
in centers of production, frozen berries are rapidly be-
coming a primary product. While there is probably no
section of Georgia where berries are, or may be, pro-
duced in sufficient quantities to warrant the erection of a
freezing plant for handling them alone, these fruits
may be advantageously used to prolong the operating
season of plants now freezing peaches.
The most satisfactory frozen product is obtained when
the operation is as follows: Fully ripe, selected berries
are washed and prepared as if for serving. They are
placed in containers of about one pound each, and cov-
42 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
ered with a sugar syrup equal in concentration to the
juice within the berries. A thirty-five to thirty-seven
per cent sugar syrup has been found most satisfactory.
The closed containers of berries are subjected to a
temperature of zero F. or lower until frozen, which re-
quires about one and one-half hours. After freezing,
the product may be raised to a temperature of 15 degrees,
at which temperature it will remain frozen and in good
Three hours before serving, the containers are re-
moved to room temperature and the contents allowed to
thaw out. A pound of fruit is sufficient for five servings,
which should reach the consumer just as the last ice
crystals are disappearing . .
Efforts are also being made in Florida toward the utilization of
blueberries through the extraction and preservation of juice.
It is claimed by those interested in this activity that blueberry
juice, in addition to its value as a drink and a flavoring substance,
has certain pharmaceutical properties. This industry, which
might at present be termed more or less embryonic, suggests pos-
sibilities worthy of deeper investigation.
Costs and Returns
As with the question of yields, so many elements enter into
the costs and returns in cultivating and marketing blueberries
that conclusions can only be suggested by a presentation of
various growers' and shippers' estimates concerning these con-
The cost of locally purchased nursery stock ranges from 2
cents to 25 cents a plant. This expense may be increased further
when select varieties are bought from out-of-State nurseries,
or it may be completely eliminated if the planter takes his stock
from wild growth. The original cost of land on which berries
are to be grown, the expense of preparation and cultivation, the
cost of fertilization and the expense of harvesting, packing, and
shipping may vary greatly in different localities and to some ex-
tent in the same areas from year to year.
One leading Florida grower states that it costs about 10 cents
per quart to place the berries on the market. Another breaks
down the expense per acre of production as follows: land, $20;
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
clearing and fencing, $20; plants, $100; and labor $10; total
cost $150. A third planter places the cost of raising blue-
berries at only $50 an acre.
There is as great a variance in the selling price of the fruit as in
the cost of producing it. One grower states that in the past he
has received as high as 40 cents a quart for select fruit, but
that gross returns from nearby markets in the past several
seasons ranged from 15 cents to 20 cents a quart. During the
1940 season the owner of a small plantation in northeast Florida
disposed of his entire crop to restaurants and hotels at 25 cents
a quart. Canneries in the northwestern part of the State have
been reported as paying from 4 cents to 6 cents a quart.
Some growers estimate that they receive a net return of about
3 cents a quart for their fruit while others reduce the estimation
of returns to 2 cents a quart. One planter states that his season's
profit from an acre of blueberries was $87.
FOOD VALUES AND RECIPES
The analyses of foods, and the resultant food-composition tables
may not be considered absolutely dependable in all cases, due
to the possibility of error in some methods of analysis, the fact
that the amount of certain minerals may differ in different
varieties of fruits, and where regarded as a dietary study, because
the total amount of a mineral present does not always determine
the amount available for use by the body. They do however
provide a general indication of food values and approximate
composition, and the following material, containing analyses
of blueberries (as compared with several other fruits), is there-
According to the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station:
"An examination of several samples of fruit showed that the
fresh fruit was about 80 per cent water. Approximately 35
per cent of the dried fruit was reducing sugar with a trace of
non-reducing sugar, probably cane sugar; indicating that about
7.5 per cent, by weight, of the fresh fruit was sugar. The fruit
examined contained about 0.38 per cent acid calculated as citric
acid, though it was not certain that the acid was entirely citric.
A comparison of the approximate sugar and acid content of some
of the common fruits based on fresh weight is given below.
44 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
"An extract of the crushed fruit was approximately pH 3.5
as compared with the pulp of oranges which is about pH 3.8-4.0.
The fruit was mealy in texture and there was little free juice
that could be readily extracted.
Strawberries ..... .
Gooseberries .... .
Other analyses of several fruits produced the following com-
parative table, showing nutritional calories, mineral elements
and protein content. All percentages, number of parts and
number of calories are in reference to edible portions of the fruits.
Nutritional Calories (approx.)
1 pound ......... .......... ...... 310
4 heaping tablesps ................... ........ 80
1 pound ... .. .. ... ........ 285
1/2 cup .................................... 100
1 pound ................. . .. 310
10 large .. ................... ...... ........ 50
1 pound ................... ........ ......... 235
8 oz. of juice .................. ... .. ......... 100
1 cup ... ....................... ........... 65
(Parts per Million)
Iron Copper Manganese
9. . 44.*
*Calculated from electrometric titration as anhydrous citric acid without
actual identification of the acid."
*The particular action of manganese in the human body is not fully known,
but it is apparently necessary in very small quantities in the diet. A legbone
deformity in chickens, known as perosis, accompanied by manganese defi-
ciency, suggests the possible need of this element in normal bone develop-
ment. When experimental rats were deprived of manganese the males showed
sterility and the females lack of maternal instinct. Excessive amounts, how-
ever, are poisonous. As little as one ounce taken over a period of 12 to 15
years is apparently adequate for children.
Cherries . ...
Orange ...... .
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Plants, of course, do not actually contain vitamin A, but they
may contain materials which can be converted into vitamin A
in the body. The United States Department of Agriculture
lists blueberries among esculents that are good sources of pro-
An exhaustive and detailed account of the many ways in
which blueberries can be prepared and served would require a
book unto itself. The following limited number of recipes is a
suggestion as to the wide variety of culinary uses to which the
fruit is adaptable. Blueberry pie, because of its great popularity
at the American dining table, leads the list.
BLUEBERRY PIE (1)
3 cups blueberries 1A teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour 1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix sugar, cinnamon and flour, add blueberries, lemon juice and salt.
Crust is prepared by mixing 2 cups of flour, '/ teaspoon salt, cutting in 3
cup of lard, or lard substitute, adding water slowly and mixing with a knife
until stiff dough is formed. Cut off 3 of dough, place on floured board
and roll on one side of dough only in circular shape. Roll to size four
inches larger than pie pan. Press dough into pan; do not remove amount
extending over edge of pan until berry mixture and top crust is in place.
Pour berry mixture into prepared lower crust in pan. Roll remainder
of dough so that it extends in size one inch beyond edge of pan. Make
slits in upper crust by folding in half and making three or more punctures
in center of fold. Place top crust over pie, moistening edge of lower
crust with cold water and pinching the two firmly together. Cut off
excess dough with sharp knife. Put pie on lower shelf of moderate oven
for ten minutes, then remove to upper shelf and bake in slow heat for
twenty-five minutes or longer.
BLUEBERRY PIE (2)
3/4 to 1 quart blueberries % teaspoon salt
12 to % cup sugar 1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
Pastry can be made as for Blueberry Pie (1), reducing amount of each
ingredient to quantity for one crust instead of two; or pastry can be made
as follows: Mix 1 cup flour, V teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder,
work in 1 tablespoon butter, stir in 1 egg and add 1/% cup milk. Work into
a smooth dough, and roll out 1/4 inch thick.
Line bottom of pan with crust, sprinkle with one or two tablespoons of
sugar and flour mixed. Pour berry filler into crust. Spread evenly,
46 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
sprinkle with sugar and flour, dot with butter and bake in a moderate oven
until berries are soft and edge of crust appears nicely browned. The pie
can be topped with meringue and returned to oven until meringue has
turned golden, or be served with a topping of whipped cream.
2 cups blueberries 11/ cups flour
1 cup sugar %V teaspoon salt
V3 cup milk 1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs 1 teaspoon lemon juice
A cup butter (1 extra tablespoon flour)
Cream butter and sugar, add well-beaten egg yolks, and salt. Beat in
alternately the flour mixed with baking powder and the milk. Fold in
stiffly-beaten egg whites, flavor with lemon juice; mix in very carefully to
avoid crushing the blueberries which have been dredged in the tablespoon
of extra flour. Bake in fairly hot oven for first half hour; then lower
temperature and finish baking in moderate oven. Serve warm with sauce
made of mashed berries brought to a boil with enough sugar to sweeten.
2 tablespoons butter 2 eggs
%3 cup sugar 1% cups milk
1 teaspoon salt 1% cups blueberries
21/ cups flour 3 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and sugar; add slightly beaten eggs, 2 cups of the flour
mixed with salt alternately with the milk, and then the baking powder.
Roll the berries in cup of flour, and add them last. Fill greased muffin
pans half full and bake in hot oven 25 minutes.
1 quart blueberries % teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar French toast
% teaspoon salt
Prepare French toast by making a batter of 1 egg, well beaten; to which
% teaspoon salt and 1 scant cup of milk has been added; into batter dip
slices of bread from which crust has been removed; fry in buttered frying
pan until brown on both sides. Place on platter and sprinkle with powdered
sugar, and cinnamon or nutmeg.
Boil blueberries with sugar, lemon juice and salt. After cooking ten
minutes, pour them into a baking dish. Place enough slices of French
toast to form a layer over the blueberries. Put in quick oven and brown.
Serve hot with hard sauce or whipped cream.
1/ pounds blueberries 11/ pounds cooking apples
1 heaping tablespoon gelatine 11/2 cups sugar
dissolved in 1 cup cold water
1/' cup hot water
Core, peel and slice apples and place with blueberries, sugar, and % cup
cold water in a sauce pan. Cook slowly until fruit is soft. Rub through
sieve. Add gelatine and stir. Pour into wet mold and let set. Garnish with
whole blueberries and serve with sweet, whipped cream.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
1 quart blueberries
1 cup sugar
Biscuit dough made in these
21 cups flour
'A cup mixed butter and lard
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/ teaspoon salt
VA cup milk
Wash blueberries and place in a saucepan with the sugar. Cook until
there is plentiful juice. Prepare dough by sifting dry ingredients together,
mixing in shortening and then milk, working the dough as little as possible;
roll out on floured board to % inch thickness, and cut into small squares.
Drop the small squares of dough into blueberries; let dumplings simmer
in the fruit syrup for about 20 minutes. Serve fruit, syrup and dumplings
together with rich cream.
2 cups blueberries
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
1% cups flour
/A teaspoon salt
3 level teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/ cup sugar
Mix blueberries, sugar and cinnamon and place in a shallow buttered
baking dish. Mix and sift flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Add beaten
egg and milk, and beat for several minutes. Pour mixture over blueberries
and bake in moderate oven for twenty-five minutes. Serve warm, with cream.
1 pint blueberries
V3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
'A cup water
1 pint raspberries
Cook granulated sugar and water for three minutes; add blueberries,
which have been carefully picked over and washed, and cook about four
minutes. Cool and then chill. The raspberries, which should have been picked
over, washed, drained and chilled, are placed in a serving dish or arranged
in individual bowls and sprinkled with the brown sugar. Pour blueberries
over raspberries, and serve.
1 cup blueberries
1% cups flour
3 tablespoons lard
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter
1/ teaspoon salt
1/ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon egg
5 tablespoons sugar
Mix 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, flour and salt, cut in the lard, and
then add egg and milk. Stir with knife until soft dough is formed. Place
on floured board and roll to % inch thickness. Spread the blueberries,
mixed with 3 tablespoons sugar and / teaspoon cinnamon evenly over the
dough to within about half an inch of outer edge. Dot with butter, and
then roll up similar to a jelly roll. Place in a greased pan and bake in
quick oven for about 15 minutes. Slice and serve with plain, or whipped
48 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
BLUEBERRY CUP CAKES
1 cup blueberries 2 eggs
11 cups flour 14 cup evaporated milk
1/ cup sugar 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder 1 cup butter
Separate egg yolks and whites; cream butter and sugar, add milk and
well beaten egg yolks. Beat thoroughly. Sift baking powder, salt and
flour together; add berries. Combine all ingredients and fold into beaten
egg whites. Pour in buttered muffin pans and bake for twenty-five or
BLUEBERRY ICEBOX COBBLER
1% cups blueberries 1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons gelatine 15 slices bread, trimmed and
1 cup sugar brushed on each side with
2 teaspoons lemon juice melted butter
Place sugar, berries and 3/4 cup of water in a pan and cook for about
fifteen or twenty minutes, or until the berries are soft but not shriveled,
and a large amount of juice has been boiled from them. Soak gelatine in
1/ cup of cold water, add enough hot blueberry juice to fill cup, stir
until gelatine is thoroughly dissolved and add lemon juice. Stir gelatine
mixture and blueberries together. Completely line a small loaf pan with
buttered bread to form the crust of the cobbler. Cut remainder of bread
into 1-inch squares. Pour one-third of the berry mixture into pan, place
a layer of bread squares on top; repeat until three layers are formed. The
top layer should be pressed gently into blueberry filler, and pan dipped
slightly to mixture making a contact with all sections of crust. Place cobbler
in refrigerator for five or six hours. Serve after removing from mold,
topping cobbler with whipped cream.
1 pint blueberries 2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vinegar 1/ cup brown sugar
Combine carefully washed and picked-over berries with vinegar, brown
sugar and molasses. Pack firmly into earthen dish, cover, and let stand
for several days until mixture has partly liquefied.
BLUEBERRIES IN MERINGUE SHELLS
2 egg whites % teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Place whites of eggs at room temperature in a bowl, add cream of tartar
and salt and beat until stiff. Beat in sugar slowly. A baking sheet should
be lined with heavy, ungreased paper. The meringue mixture is placed
on this paper with a large spoon or a pastry tube, being formed into small
nests, individual circles with depressions in the centers. Bake in a slow
oven until meringue is a delicate brown. If the nests show a tendency to
stick in being removed, moisten reverse side of paper with water.
Fill nests with blueberries, sweetened to taste, and top with whipped cream.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 49
Fresh blueberries Tart shells
Powdered sugar" Whipped cream
The pastry is made by mixing 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
and 3 teaspoon salt, cutting in 6 tablespoons of shortening and adding
enough water to make a soft dough. Place dough on floured board, work,
and roll out to fit tart shells. Bake in a moderate oven for about twenty-five
After tart shells have been removed from oven, allow to cool, fill shells
with blueberries, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cover with whipped
Considerable claims have been made as to the medicinal uses
of the blueberry juice. It can be put up in bottles like grape juice
-nothing added however-and it will keep indefinitely. It is
recommended for ulcerated stomach and duodenum.
50 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
The cultivation of blueberries in Florida presents many of the
same problems found in other agricultural activities, and to some
extent includes the same possibilities for profit or loss to the
grower. Favorable factors for success might include such points
as the absence of disease or serious insect pests in the plantings
that have already been made, the availability of suitable land in
certain areas of the State and climatic conditions which should
react advantageously upon early fruiting varieties and bring to the
grower the consequent cash returns usually found in early markets.
Within a few years after being set out blueberry plants are
producing fruit. The berries are almost universally popular,
both as a fresh fruit and in pastries, jams and jellies. This popu-
larity should be even further increased with the more extensive
production of better berries from select, cultivated plantings.
Blueberry bushes are not thorny, which makes harvesting easier
than with some other berries.
Unfavorable aspects in the commercial cultivation of blue-
berries exist in the possibility, however remote, of glutted mar-
kets and their usual association with depressed prices; adverse
weather, either drought or flood, which may ruin or curtail the
fruit crop; and unsatisfactory production which may result when
the planter has not used care in his selection of stock, has set
his bushes in land unsuited to blueberries, and has employed
indifferent or erroneous cultural methods. Wild blueberries,
although the areas of their growth may be gradually decreasing,
offer some competition with commercially cultivated berries,
especially in local markets, and when the latter are not of the
If those interested in cultivated blueberries have in mind only
the raising of a few bushes in a garden, and the fruit is intended
for home consumption, the financial risk of course is slight,
and the planter may reap a harvest of pleasure as well as fruit
in growing the berries. Interesting experiments can be conducted
in such small plantings, the results of which may prove of value
in the general improvement of cultural practices.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Blueberry bushes may be used effectively in landscaping either
small lawns or the grounds of large estates. They may be used
to especial advantage as hedges. In springtime they present
an attractive combination of green foliage and white blossoms;
mid-season brings the rich color of ripening fruit; and their
autumnal crimson, marking the approach of winter dormancy,
is unusually striking.
It is not recommended that the prospective grower of blue-
berries embark upon an extensive commercial venture in raising
the fruit unless he is completely familiar with all of the vital
phases of their cultivation and is reasonably sure of success in the
basic combination of suitable soil, favorable climatic and weather
conditions, dependable stock, and a profitable marketing situ-
ation; that is, unless he can afford the chances of monetary loss
and disappointment. It may well be advisable, in view of the
unsatisfactory results from plantings in some sections of the State,
that the grower confine his initial efforts to small, experimental
tracts. With relatively little expense and within a comparatively
short time it can be discovered whether or not the locality is
suited to blueberry cultivation. If the growth behavior of the
bushes in the test tracts is satisfactory, a larger area can then be
more safely planted.
Florida blueberry cultivation has been retarded because of the
misguided or somewhat unscrupulous promotional activities of
the 1920's and the inexperienced enthusiasm which was the para-
mount element in many of the plantings made during that period.
The immediate reaction to inevitable failures was widespread
disappointment; the most persistent results are apparent in much
fruit of poor quality with its depressant effect upon market prices.
Established growers and shippers in Florida, working toward a
general improvement of the situation, stress the need of further
experimental work, governmental aid in better marketing fa-
cilities, greater co-operation among planters, the selection and
culture of a dependable variety of stock and the grading of fruit.
52 BLUEBERRIES WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO FLORIDA CULTURE
Bartram, William. Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East
and West Florida .. Philadelphia, James & Johnson, 1791. 520p., front.,
plates, map. New edition pub. by Macy-Masius, New York, 1928.
Beckwith, Charles S.; Coville, Stanley; and Doehlert, Charles A. Blueberry
Culture. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Circular 229.
New Brunswick, N. J., April 1937.
Coville, Frederick V. Directions for Blueberry Culture, 1916. United
States Department of Agriculture Bulletin 334. (In Bulletins 326-350.)
Card, Fred W. Bush-Fruits. New York, Macmillan, 1917. 409p.
Darrow, George M. Blueberry Culture. Pamphlet issued by United States
Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry.
Dickey, R. D. "Grape and Berry Production." Florida Grower, May 1939.
Garden Encyclopedia, The. Edit by E. L. D. Seymour. New York, Wm. H.
Wise and Company, 1939. 1300p. illus.
Latimer, L. P., and Smith, W. W. Improved Blueberries. University of New
Hampshire Extension Circular 215. Durham, N. H., June 1938.
Maine Agricultural Experiment Station pamphlet High-Bush Blueberries in
Maine. Orono, Maine.
Mowry, Harold, and Camp, A. F. Blueberry Culture in Florida. University
of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 194. Gainesville,
Fla., February 1928.
Scott, John M. Blueberry Culture in Florida. Florida State Department of
Agriculture Bulletin No. 33, New Series. Tallahassee, Fla., September 1929.
Sherman, Henry C. Food and Health. New York, Macmillan, 1934. 296p.
Smith, Roger W. "You Can Pick Pies from This Hedge," Better Homes &
Gardens, November, 1940, Des Moines, Iowa.
Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, The. New York, Macmillan, 1930.
3 vols., illus.
Stork, William. A Description of East-Florida, with a Journal, Kept by John
Bartram of Philadelphia, Botanist to His Majesty for the Floridas . .
With explanatory botanical notes. 3rd ed. London. Sold by W. Nicoll,
1769. 40p., maps, plan. First pub. 1766.
Stennis, Mary A. Florida Fruits and Vegetables in the Family Menu. Florida
State Department of Agriculture Bulletin No. 46, New Series. Tallahassee,
Fla., March 1939.
United States Department of Agriculture. Food and Life . Yearbook of
Agriculture 1939. Washington, Govt. Print. Off. 1165p.
United States Department of Agriculture. Soils and Men . Yearbook of
Agriculture 1938. Washington, Govt. Print. Off. 1232p. illus. map.
United States Department of Agriculture. Yearbook of Agriculture 1937.
"Improving the Wild Blueberry,' by Frederick V. Coville. (pp. 559-574)
Washington, Govt. Print. Off.
Van Meter, R. A. Bush Fruit Production. New York, Orange Judd Publishing
Co., Inc., 1928. 123p. illus.
Woodruff, J. G. Cultivated Berries. Georgia Experiment Station Bulletin
166. Experiment, Ga., January 1931.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 53
Carver, Allan, grower, Crestview, Fla.
Hentz, John, County Agricultural Agent, Crestview, Fla.
Martin, E. A., Seed Company, publishers Martin's Garden News, Jacksonville,
Mowry, Harold, Director, Agricultural Experiment Station, University of
Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
Sapp, W. B., grower and shipper, Crestview, Fla.
Sollee, Arthur N., grower, Love Grove Road, South Jacksonville, Fla.
Stanton, Robert, horticulturist, Philadelphia, Penn.
Stokes, C. M., Sr., grower and nurseryman, Whitehouse, Fla.
Sullivan Pecan Company, shippers, Crestview, Fla.
Whittington, J. G., grower and shipper, Florala, Ala.