Information

Fruit trees: Blueberry

Fruit trees: Blueberry

Generality

Blueberry, spontaneous plant in the northern hemisphere, belongs to the Ericaceae family, Vaccinium genus, comprising about 130 species, among which the following are of some agronomic interest:
- Vaccinuim myrtillus o Blackberry: spontaneous in Europe: 20-40 cm tall, with angular and branchy stems; it blooms in May and bears fruit in July-August; it has solitary or coupled berries, black, covered with bloom and with colored pulp. It is found in the Alps and in the Apennines up to Abruzzo, up to about 2,000 meters; the fruits can be eaten fresh or processed into jams or jellies.
- Vaccinium vitis idaea o Cranberry: spontaneous in Europe; 10-40 cm tall, evergreen, with white or pink flowers, gathered in terminal clusters; produces red, sour, bitter berries; it is widespread in the Alps and in the northern Apennines.
- Vaccinium uliginosum o Blueberry: spontaneous in Europe, 15-25 cm tall, deciduous, white-red flowers; it produces bluish-black berries, pruinose, with colorless and tasteless juice.
- Vaccinium corymbosum o American giant blueberry: spontaneous in North America, it is a 1-4 m tall, deciduous plant with white or pinkish flowers; the berries gathered in clusters, are black-blue in color, fragrant; very cold-resistant (down to -30 ° C).
- Vaccinium australe o Southeastern highbush blueberry, to which the first selected varieties belong.
- Vaccinium oxycoccus o Marsh Mortel: spontaneous in Europe and North America; creeping evergreen plant, with 20-30 cm long filiform stems; produces red and globose berries.
- Vaccinium angustifolium: spontaneous in North America; it has a reduced size (up to 50 cm) and produces pruinose berries, of a more or less dark blue color, sweet and fragrant.
- Vaccinium ashei or Blueberry conilopid: spontaneous in the South of the United States, it is a plant up to 6 meters high, with black berries, without or almost bloom, gathered in short racemes; it is less resistant to cold than the American Giant Blueberry.
- Vaccinium macrocarpon o Cranberry or Berry of the cranes.
The varieties of blueberry grown today are mainly those derived from the giant blueberry and cranberry.
The blueberry grows well in acid soils (pH 5-5.5), free of active limestone, well endowed with organic substance, fertile, fresh, tending to dissolve.
It is propagated by woody or herbaceous cutting.

Bilberries (website photo)

Giant American Blueberry - Cultivation technique

The giant blueberry is an extremely demanding species: it prefers light soils, even if it tolerates high levels of clay, rich in organic matter (at least 5-10%) but above all free of limestone and with a very acid reaction (pH between 4 and 5.5 ); it needs frequent irrigation due to the very superficial root system.
The development of the plant in the early years is often stunted and so is production.
It seems preferable not to work the land before planting, choosing clearings or uncultivated land rather than those previously used as arable land; plants develop more easily in deforested and virgin soils. Ventilation and drainage must also be suitable; the water must always flow out quickly, even in the event of heavy rainfall.
Lazoto must not be given in excess: especially in soils very rich in organic matter, annual contributions of 30-50 kg / ha of nitrogen are optimal. Better the acid-based formulations (sulphates) for all the elements. The organic fertilization at the plant and during the cultivation phase of the plant must be carried out with acid peat (pH 3-3.5) in place of the manure in the soil with a pH higher than 5. The sixths are between 2-3.50 m between rows and 1-1.50 m between plants, depending on the vigor of the variety and the best or worst environmental conditions.
Blueberry irrigation should not be done with calcareous water. Rainwater is always preferable.
Main varieties of American giant blueberry
- Vaccinium corymbosum ´Duke´, which by delaying flowering, avoids late frosts, producing the first light blue-colored blueberries, with a taste well balanced between sweet and sour.
- Vaccinium corymbosum ´Jersey´, with elliptical, toothed or whole, dark green leaves, which turn towards yellow-orange before falling, produce large blueberries, initially acidic, but very sweet when fully ripe towards the end of June, early July.
- Vaccinium corymbosum ´Patriot´, a deciduous shrub with dark green summer foliage, which turns orange in autumn, produces showy spring white blooms and large blueberries, blue-violet, slightly flattened at the ends.

American giant blueberry (photo www.naturallandscapesnursery.com)

Cranberry - Cultivation technique

Cultivated in intensive plants almost only in Germany, it derives from selections of wild forest cranberry present mainly in the Scandinavian and Northern European countries.
Cranberries can be grown in the same areas where giant blueberries are grown because the soil and climate requirements are similar; however, the development of the plant is much smaller, about 30 cm in height, and maturation occurs when the harvest of the giant blueberry is finished, that is, in September.
The planting distances are 1 m between the rows and 0.25-0.30 m between the plants.
The collection can be done by hand with the help of special combs.
In Germany a machine has been developed to facilitate its collection.
The main varieties of cranberry are: Wild cranberry ", Koralle", Erntedank ", Entrekrone", Erntesegen "and Ammerland".

Cranberry fruits (Vaccinium vitis idaea) (photo website)

Productions

Ripe blueberry fruits are eaten as they are by seasoning them with lemon and sugar.
Jams, syrup jellies and sauces are also prepared.
By fermenting the juice you get a slightly alcoholic drink the blueberry wine, from which, through distillation, you get an excellent brandy very popular in Germany and France.
Cranberry fruits are used to prepare excellent jams and preserves.

Adversity

There is little information about any pests because the blueberry culture (in particular the red one) is made up of spontaneous plants and the specialized one is very small.
The American giant blueberry needs only treatments for the defense against Botritis. Excess nitrogen can cause poor lignification with sprout cancer attacks, in which case it is better to eliminate them as soon as they wilt and burn them.


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