It’s Blueberry Picking Season!
By: Kyle Grammatica
It is officially blueberry picking season in Florida! Learn about blueberries, their history in Florida, and how to pick your own.
Florida Blueberry History
Blueberries have been growing in the wild for hundreds of years in Florida, but it wasn’t until the late 1960’s that they became a success for the Florida farming industry. Professor Robert Sharpe from the University of Florida started a program to breed a low-chill blueberry crop to be more successful in warmer climates. By 1976 the program was a success and the new blueberry cultivar, named the southern highbush, was released. Through the 1980’s the new variety of blueberries were planted across central and northwest Florida, and in the 1990’s the southern highbush had become the dominant type of blueberries grown in the state.
Small blueberry farms are now established across Florida, and although other states produce larger amounts, Florida berries have an advantage: they are able to be harvested earlier in the season so when they are sold they face limited competition.
In the later months of the season, typically April and May, many blueberry farms open to the public for picking. Picking your own food can be a fun and rewarding experience for all. Not only do you get a great deal on some delicious fruit, but you get to see exactly where your food comes from. If you are interested in picking your own blueberries, you can locate a farm by using the site Pick Your Own.
If you’re going to go pick your own blueberries, take a look at some of these tips to make sure you get the most out of your harvest.
- Bring sunscreen or wear clothes that protect you from the sun.
- Bring shallow containers to store your harvest. These protect the blueberries at the bottom from being crushed by those on top.
- Look for blueberries that are full in shape and light gray-blue in color. These will be the freshest. Blueberries with a small amount of red on them can be picked as well. Avoid very red, white, and green berries.
- To pick the blueberry, gently take a bunch in your hand and rub the berries with your thumb. The riper berries should detach easily while the unripe ones will stay on the plant.
- To increase the storage life of your blueberries, put them in your refrigerator as soon as you can. Placing paper towels in your storage container will absorb moisture and help keep the berries fresh longer. Avoid washing your berries until you are ready to eat them. This will help prevent them from becoming mushy.
Now you should be all ready to enjoy nature and pick your own Florida blueberries!