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
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Who’s Using Biocontrols, And Who Isn’t [Infographic]
With so many consumers concerned about how food is grown, many farm marketers find themselves in the unexpected role of Read More
apple tree trellising washington state
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure Expose Bigger Flaws
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Brandt logo
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Utah-Based Baicor
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Drip Irrigation
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On Soil Health
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Two chipping varieties Cornell released in the last few years that have shown promise are ‘Lamoka’ and ‘Waneta.’ 
“They both have outstanding chip color when fried out of the cold, which is a trait that’s important in the industry,” Cornell's Walter De Jong says.
Photo courtesy of Walter De Jong
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell University
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
field shot the Produce Peddler Colorado
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
workers bending
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To Your Staff
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
field shot
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link Underserved Growers To Farm Service Agency Programs
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Vineyard Labor Downsized GP
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinion]
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Jones Potato Farm field in Parrish, FL
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural Environmental Leaders
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
The Latest
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Who’s Using Biocontrols, And Who I…
With so many consumers concerned about how food is grown, many farm marketers find themselves in the unexpected role of Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure …
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On So…
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell Univ…
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To…
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link…
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinio…
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For…
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Fou…
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
Berries
April 27, 2016
New Herbicide For Tomatoes, Strawberries
The product from Helm Agro US is registered to control more than 100 broadleaf, grass, and sedge species. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: On…
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
No Peach Crop Likely This Year In Severa…
The sudden, hard freeze that followed the warm winter means Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut growers are seeing near total losses. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2016
Deception Is A Dish Best Never Served [O…
Recent mainstream media kerfuffle over local food legitimacy stirs up the need for more clearly defined terms, better awareness among consumers. Read More
Fruits
April 26, 2016
New Study Finds Traditional Migrant Work…
Ball State University research shows many of the agricultural migrant workers of the past just aren’t migrating any more. Read More
More Vegetables
April 26, 2016
Genetically Engineered Mushroom Avoids R…
A common white button mushroom modified with the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 has been engineered to resist browning. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]