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
Past industry efforts to discover Paradox hybrid seedlings (Juglans hindsii x J. regia) with superior traits have led to advanced selections of Paradox clones, each with unique characteristics. The University of California selection, RX 1, is a top-choice for Sacramento Valley walnut orchardists and others looking for resistance to Phytopthora and good survivability. RX 1 is a cross of Juglans microcarpa x J. regia. It is showing to be one of the most adaptable walnut rootstocks, producing a large tree with the highest yields in replicated trials. USPP#20,649 P3
Fruits
December 7, 2016
Sierra Gold Nursery 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
Sierra Gold Nurseries in Yuba City, CA, offers two walnut rootstocks, a salt-tolerant pistachio rootstock, and more. Read More
Action shot of an automated strawberry picker from Harvest CROO
Equipment
December 6, 2016
USDA Announces $3 Million For Robotic Agriculture Research
More evidence being found about how people can benefit from automation in the field. Read More
billevans
Apple Grower of the Year
December 6, 2016
2014 Apple Grower Of The Year Bill Evans Dies
Legendary apple grower Bill Evans, who along with his wife, Jeannette, farmed more apple acreage than any grower in the Read More
weedy watermelon field
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
New Fact Sheet Analyzes Weed Seeds And Their Longevity
Topics covered include how weed seeds travel, when they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated. Read More
Field trials are one component being used to evaluate water and nitrogen use efficiency in lettuce.  A wide array of germplasm is being screened including cultivars of leaf, romaine, iceberg and butter types, mapping populations and non-domesticated primitive types and wild lettuce species.   Photo credit: David Still
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Scientists Aim To Improve Nitrogen, Water Use Efficiency In Lettuce
Genetic research intends to develop varieties with enhanced nutrient uptake. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Report: Florida Cannabis Business To Approach $2 Billion By 2020
Lofty projections include a compound annual growth rate of 140%. Read More
Growers participate in a real-time industry survey session at the 2016 Florida Citrus Show
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Florida Citrus Community Tasked To Unify For Stronger Future
A group effort is necessary to forge ahead. Read More
field shot the Produce Peddler Colorado
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Orondis Opti Fungicide Receives Registration In Premix Formulation
The product provides control of Oomycete diseases in vegetables and other specialty crops. Read More
BlackPearl® is the best early season cherry, ripening 10 days before Bing and around Chelan. It has exceptional flavor and is extremely firm and crunchy. BlackPearl® is medium size with 20% sugar and keeps better that most other cherries. The tree is hardy and canker resistant. Early season bloom, S4 unknown.
Fruits
December 6, 2016
Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
For more information on these varieties, contact Fowler Nurseries, Inc. Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 525 Fowler Rd. Newcastle, CA 9565827 Phone: Read More
betternut-23
Vegetables
December 6, 2016
Rupp Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showcase
For more information, contact, Rupp Seeds: 17919 County Rd. B, Wauseon, OH 43567 800-700-1199; WEBSITE www.RuppSeeds.com FAX 419-337-5491; EMAIL [email protected] Read More
The Latest
Fruits
December 7, 2016
Sierra Gold Nursery 2017 Variety Showcas…
Sierra Gold Nurseries in Yuba City, CA, offers two walnut rootstocks, a salt-tolerant pistachio rootstock, and more. Read More
Equipment
December 6, 2016
USDA Announces $3 Million For Robotic Ag…
More evidence being found about how people can benefit from automation in the field. Read More
Apple Grower of the Year
December 6, 2016
2014 Apple Grower Of The Year Bill Evans…
Legendary apple grower Bill Evans, who along with his wife, Jeannette, farmed more apple acreage than any grower in the Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
New Fact Sheet Analyzes Weed Seeds And T…
Topics covered include how weed seeds travel, when they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated. Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Scientists Aim To Improve Nitrogen, Wate…
Genetic research intends to develop varieties with enhanced nutrient uptake. Read More
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Report: Florida Cannabis Business To App…
Lofty projections include a compound annual growth rate of 140%. Read More
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Florida Citrus Community Tasked To Unify…
A group effort is necessary to forge ahead. Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Orondis Opti Fungicide Receives Registra…
The product provides control of Oomycete diseases in vegetables and other specialty crops. Read More
Fruits
December 6, 2016
Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 2017 Variety Show…
For more information on these varieties, contact Fowler Nurseries, Inc. Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 525 Fowler Rd. Newcastle, CA 9565827 Phone: Read More
Vegetables
December 6, 2016
Rupp Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showca…
For more information, contact, Rupp Seeds: 17919 County Rd. B, Wauseon, OH 43567 800-700-1199; WEBSITE www.RuppSeeds.com FAX 419-337-5491; EMAIL [email protected] Read More
Farm Marketing
December 6, 2016
Registration Is Open For 32nd Annual Nor…
The six-day event for agritourism operators heads to the Northeast with highlights including bus tours, educational sessions and workshops, and business exchange. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
December 5, 2016
Best Practices For Bactericides Key To V…
Approval finally cleared for antimicrobial applications, and now growers wait and hope to see positive results. Read More
Citrus
December 5, 2016
South Florida Endures Driest November On…
Region has not experienced any significant rainfall since Hurricane Matthew. Read More
Fruits
December 5, 2016
Fall Creek Nursery 2017 Variety Showcase…
For information about these varieties, contact Fall Creek Nursery: Fall Creek Nursery 39318 Jasper Lowell Road Lowell, OR 97452 800-538-30015 [email protected] Read More
Fruits
December 5, 2016
Team Coverage: Fruit And Nut Industry Co…
Can’t make it to the biggest fruit and vegetable conferences? No sweat, we’ll take you there. Read More
Vegetables
December 4, 2016
Rispens Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Sho…
For more information, contact Rispens Seeds: 1357 Dutch American Way, P.O. Box 310, Beecher, IL 60401 708-946-6560; WEBSITE RispensSeeds.com FAX Read More
GenNext Growers
December 4, 2016
New Loans Available For Small, Beginning…
USDA recently announced streamlined guaranteed Loans and additional lender category for small-scale operators. Read More
Crop Protection
December 4, 2016
Bio Huma Netics Opens New Lab Facility
Facility to improve quality control and help expand product line. Read More