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 andreebegley@yahoo.com

Featured Stories
CitrusWith Big Data Comes Big Concerns For Agriculture [Opinion]
January 30, 2015
Many believe technologies like UAVs and precision ag represent the second Green Revolution, but it only will happen if farmers feel safe using them. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Bactericide Now Registered in Top Apple Growing States
January 30, 2015
KASUMIN is active on a wide array of plant pathogenic bacteria, including resistant strains. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Drought Meeting Called
January 30, 2015
State and federal officials will discuss potential actions for the coming year. Read More
GrapesRecord Crowds Flock To California Winegrape Show
January 30, 2015
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium attracts 14,000 industry professionals. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateResearchers Develop Electronic Citrus Greening Detector
January 30, 2015
New, easy-to-use technology could help growers get a leg up on the disease. Read More
VegetablesSakata Seed Highlights Specialty Golden Beet
January 29, 2015
The company highlights specialty golden beet, Touchstone Gold. Read More
FruitsUse The Off-Season To Focus On Farm Safety
January 29, 2015
Prevention, planning, and preparedness are essential for all agritainment operations. Read More
Protected AgricultureHow To Successfully Produce Vegetables In Controlled Environments
January 28, 2015
Greenhouse expert Merle Jensen offers pointers on growing systems, pest control, plant nutrition, harvesting, and more. Read More
IPMWhat You Need To Know To Maintain An Effective IPM Program In The Greenhouse
January 28, 2015
Greenhouse expert Karin Tifft discusses the importance of scouting, pest identification, control options, and the importance of sanitation. Read More
Apples & PearsPears Get A Hefty Shout-Out From Rapper
January 28, 2015
The pome fruit is on mainstream media's radar thanks to a rapper's quote and ensuing social media blitz. Read More
The Latest
CitrusWith Big Data Comes Big Concerns For Agriculture [Opini…
January 30, 2015
Many believe technologies like UAVs and precision ag represent the second Green Revolution, but it only will happen if farmers feel safe using them. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Bactericide Now Registered in Top Apple Growing Sta…
January 30, 2015
KASUMIN is active on a wide array of plant pathogenic bacteria, including resistant strains. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Drought Meeting Called
January 30, 2015
State and federal officials will discuss potential actions for the coming year. Read More
GrapesRecord Crowds Flock To California Winegrape Show
January 30, 2015
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium attracts 14,000 industry professionals. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateResearchers Develop Electronic Citrus Greening Detector
January 30, 2015
New, easy-to-use technology could help growers get a leg up on the disease. Read More
VegetablesSakata Seed Highlights Specialty Golden Beet
January 29, 2015
The company highlights specialty golden beet, Touchstone Gold. Read More
FruitsUse The Off-Season To Focus On Farm Safety
January 29, 2015
Prevention, planning, and preparedness are essential for all agritainment operations. Read More
Protected AgricultureHow To Successfully Produce Vegetables In Controlled En…
January 28, 2015
Greenhouse expert Merle Jensen offers pointers on growing systems, pest control, plant nutrition, harvesting, and more. Read More
IPMWhat You Need To Know To Maintain An Effective IPM Prog…
January 28, 2015
Greenhouse expert Karin Tifft discusses the importance of scouting, pest identification, control options, and the importance of sanitation. Read More
Apples & PearsPears Get A Hefty Shout-Out From Rapper
January 28, 2015
The pome fruit is on mainstream media's radar thanks to a rapper's quote and ensuing social media blitz. Read More
FruitsHighlights From The Mid-Atlantic Fruit And Vegetable Co…
January 28, 2015
Bio-control use, media literacy, and disease control were just a few of the topics discussed at the convention held in Hershey, PA. Read More
GrapesCalifornia Table Grape Growers Offer Agricultural Schol…
January 28, 2015
The application deadline for the agricultural scholarships is 5 p.m., Feb. 13. Read More
GrapesNew Wine Hybrid Establishment Cost Resource Available
January 28, 2015
Research from Cornell University breaks down the cost of producing hybrid winegrapes. Read More
FertilizerEasy Access To Fertilization Guidelines
January 28, 2015
New, easy-to-follow brochures take the guesswork out of almond and walnut fertilization. Read More
BerriesDormant Pruning Tips For Your Berries
January 28, 2015
Proper dormant pruning increases berry size and improves overall health of blackberry and raspberry plants. Read More
NutsHow Freezing Temperature Affect Bearing and New Trees
January 28, 2015
Key points before and after the critical bloom period make exposure to freezing temperatures relevant. Read More
CitrusFlorida Citrus Is Still A Big Deal [Opinion]
January 28, 2015
Even while in the grips of greening, citrus continues to be a big contributor to the Sunshine State's economy. Read More
FruitsUSDA Forecast Predicts Normal Water Supply For Parts Of…
January 27, 2015
The Southwest, Sierra Nevada region, and Pacific Northwest are starting the year drier than normal. Read More