Highbush Blueberry For California

Golden Blueberry

Dave Brazelton has been in the blueberry business for 30 years, looking at varieties all over the world for just the right characteristics to grow in California. He’s finally found it.

Brazelton, the president of the nation’s largest blueberry nursery, Fall Creek Farm & Nursery in Lowell, OR, actually discovered the low-chill variety a decade ago. He was walking trial blocks in Florida in April 2000 with Paul Lyrene, the University of Florida’s blueberry breeder, when he spotted a low-chill variety that was suffering from stem blight, a common disease in the Sunshine State.

Brazelton liked the blueberry’s characteristics, and he wasn’t too concerned about the fact that it had stem blight, which in Florida knocks out about 60% of commercial varieties. “Stem blight is very much climate-characteristic,” he says. “In drier climates, it’s no problem at all.”

The San Joaquin

After all, Brazelton, who currently serves as chairman of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s Research Committee, was after a variety that thrived in just that, the dry desert-like climate of the world’s richest agricultural region, California’s San Joaquin Valley. Therefore it only seemed appropriate when this year, after years of trials, the new blueberry variety is released with the fitting moniker, “San Joaquin.” Brazelton is now taking orders, with commercial planting expected this fall.

The nurseryman is, to say the least, very excited about his new baby, or as he terms it, “like choosing a marriage partner.” He liked the fruit right away, but he had to make sure it withstood some trials. “We’ve trialed a lot of selections in California that have not made it commercially; the California blueberry industry has been developed on varieties outside the state,” he says. “This is the first variety released specifically for the desert climate of California.”

Growers in other parts of the country interested in planting blueberries should take note, however. Though San Joaquin will not work in humid climates such as Florida because of stem blight, Brazelton is interested in how the variety will work in other warm, dry climates, such as in Texas and other southern states.

Labor Saver

Besides being a true California variety, San Joaquin has one other characteristic that makes it unique, says Brazelton. It is the first southern highbush variety that can be mechanically harvested and packed for the fresh market. It can be mechanically harvested because the fruit is firm and retains a bright blue color, its loose clusters make for an easy release, and its upright, open-bush habit, and vigorous growth are ideal. The ability to mechanically harvest obviously saves the grower money on labor, Brazelton notes. “Not to mention the availability of labor — that’s another story,” he says.

San Joaquin requires about 400 to 500 hours of chilling, which is similar to a variety that may be familiar to growers, Star. It also yields about the same as Star, with harvest about a week later. San Joaquin is not self-fertile, and should be planted with a pollinator such as Abundance, which Brazelton recommends because it shows promise as a variety that might too lend itself to machine-harvesting.

Brazelton, who has served the industry in numerous posts, including a stint as president of the Oregon Blueberry Growers Association, is also excited about one other aspect of San Joaquin that fruit breeders have been accused of overlooking in recent decades — flavor. “It tastes like a blueberry, but it has undertones of a tropical fruit,” he says. “A few people have said that it tastes like guava.”

As far as drawbacks, Brazelton said his only concern is that because the San Joaquin is so vigorous and it tends to grow upright, growers will have to manage the height of the canopy as the bushes get older, which isn’t the case for most varieties. “But I’ll take one that needs pruning over a weak grower any day,” he says.

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Highbush Blueberry For California

  1. I would like to purchase some Golden Blueberry Bushes for my home in Petaluma, Ca. Will they be available locally? Thank you, Jim

  2. I would like to purchase some Golden Blueberry Bushes for my home in Petaluma, Ca. Will they be available locally? Thank you, Jim

  3. Hello, Please tell me where I can order San Joaquin Blueberries. I would like 10 bushes, and would also like to know if I need to cross pollinate them with a different variety. If you suggest cross pollination, what variety would be most successful? Thank you in advance for your help. Sincerely, Andrea Begley [email protected]

Featured Stories
high denisty apple orchard washington
Apples & Pears
May 29, 2016
Orchard Systems Matter With Mechanization
“It takes years to turn orchards from a big, wild 3-D tree to a narrow canopy — a lot of Read More
upclose of Israeli apple harvester
Fruits
May 28, 2016
Orchard Automation Is On The Horizon
Industry experts say the advent of fully automated orchard tasks are on the cusp of happening — with a few companies leading the automotive harvest charge. Read More
IFTA Washington Day3 6
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
Washington Apple Commission Elects New Leaders
The commission board also approved the export budget of $7.7 million for the upcoming 2016-17 crop, based on a crop of 135 million cartons. Read More
As this view of the San Luis Reservoir shows, California's drought is far from over. (Photo credit: David Eddy)
Fruits
May 27, 2016
California Drought Far From Over For
To preserve orchards and vineyards, growers are expected to fallow up to 350,000 acres of corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. Read More
These workers use a platform from Automated Ag for hand thinning. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
How Best To Integrate Man And Machine
If you want to implement labor-saving mechanization, you should start the conversation with the end user – your employees. Read More
Crowd protesting GMOs stock image FEATURE
Farm Marketing
May 27, 2016
Consumers Don’t Really Know What GMO Means, New Study Finds
A study from the University of Florida confirms what many farm marketers suspected: consumers don't understand genetically modified food and organisms as well as they think they do. In fact, 80% of consumers think food containing DNA should be labeled (almost as many who think GMO food should be labeled). Read More
Asian citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
May 27, 2016
Alabama Agriculture Department To Conduct Citrus Psyllid Survey
Currently, Alabama is the only citrus-growing state that has not yet detected citrus greening. Read More
Ready To Spring
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting Leaffooted Bug Pressure
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
First-year impact of Prunus replant disease at the Firebaugh replant trial; stunted trees in the foreground row were planted in plot of non-fumigated replant soil. (Photo credit: University of California Agriculture)
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before Replanting Almonds, Stone Fruit
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
May 29, 2016
Orchard Systems Matter With Mechanizatio…
“It takes years to turn orchards from a big, wild 3-D tree to a narrow canopy — a lot of Read More
Fruits
May 28, 2016
Orchard Automation Is On The Horizon
Industry experts say the advent of fully automated orchard tasks are on the cusp of happening — with a few companies leading the automotive harvest charge. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
Washington Apple Commission Elects New L…
The commission board also approved the export budget of $7.7 million for the upcoming 2016-17 crop, based on a crop of 135 million cartons. Read More
Fruits
May 27, 2016
California Drought Far From Over For
To preserve orchards and vineyards, growers are expected to fallow up to 350,000 acres of corn, wheat, cotton and alfalfa. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 27, 2016
How Best To Integrate Man And Machine
If you want to implement labor-saving mechanization, you should start the conversation with the end user – your employees. Read More
Farm Marketing
May 27, 2016
Consumers Don’t Really Know What G…
A study from the University of Florida confirms what many farm marketers suspected: consumers don't understand genetically modified food and organisms as well as they think they do. In fact, 80% of consumers think food containing DNA should be labeled (almost as many who think GMO food should be labeled). Read More
Insect & Disease Update
May 27, 2016
Alabama Agriculture Department To Conduc…
Currently, Alabama is the only citrus-growing state that has not yet detected citrus greening. Read More
Insect Control
May 26, 2016
Temperature, Location Key To Predicting …
This year, leaffooted bugs are expected to be a significant problem in almonds and pistachios, but watching temperature and the Read More
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before…
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Who Grows Organically — And Who Doesn…
We surveyed 816 fruit and vegetable growers and found that farm marketers and vegetable growers are much more likely than their peers to embrace the practice. Read More
Farm Marketing
May 26, 2016
Farm Dinners: Your Most Powerful Marketi…
Farm dinners are a hassle. They’re expensive. And ridiculously effective. Read More
Cucurbits
May 25, 2016
Whitefly Threat Has Florida Growers On H…
Researchers, state agencies working together to prevent a potential outbreak. Read More
Crop Protection
May 25, 2016
More Apps Help Growers Identify Insects …
Berries, apples, pears, and cherries now rolled into new app series from Clemson University. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Says Bayer Bid ‘Financially Ina…
Proposal cited as undervalued, not able to address financial, regulatory risks. Read More
Stone Fruit
May 25, 2016
Researchers Study Why Cherry Cracking Af…
German researchers studied how water uptake and fruit skin determined a cultivar’s susceptibility to cherry cracking. Read More
Farm Management
May 25, 2016
Report Highlights Benefits Of Trans-Paci…
National Potato Council says report from the International Trade Commission offers the benefits the free trade agreement would offer growers. Read More
Fruits
May 25, 2016
Farm Bureau Says EPA, Army Corps Of Engi…
AFBF told Congress that the Army Corps' novel interpretations of environmental law are threatening farmers in California and other areas of the country. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2016
NRCS Invests $4.3 Million To Combat Clim…
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is committing funds to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the effects of climate change and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]