When to Harvest Highbush Blueberry

Highbush blueberry cluster beginning to ripen image by Aconcagua/Wikimedia Commons

Overview

The highbush blueberry plant is native to North America and has fed Native Americans, settlers and foragers throughout American history. According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, this plant was domesticated in the early 1900s by Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Coville. You can now grow this antioxidant-rich fruit in your own garden or forage for them throughout portions of the United States. By knowing when to harvest them, you can enjoy a fresh crop or store them for any time of the year.

Step 1

Familiarize yourself with the blueberry harvesting periods for your area. The blueberry harvesting period begins in mid-April in southeastern regions, such as Florida, but extends into August as far north as Maine. July is National Blueberry Month, which coincides with peak harvest times.

Step 2

Watch for fruit development two to three months after your bushes have grown springtime blossoms.

Step 3

Pick blueberries from the bush one to three days after they have turned blue, as this allows time for maturation of their full flavor. Berries with any trace of red coloring are not yet ripe enough for picking.

Step 4

Harvest your blueberries weekly for up to six weeks, depending on the individual plant. The clusters of berries do not ripen at the same time, so weekly harvesting ensures an ideal crop.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not leave freshly picked blueberries in the heat or in sealed containers --- the resulting moisture will damage their skins and flavor. Wash blueberries directly before eating them and no sooner, because immediate washing and storage will also damage their firmness.

References

  • U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council: Blueberry History
  • U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council: Growing
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Growing Highbush Blueberries

Who Can Help

  • The Highbush Blueberry and its Management; Robert Edward Gough, PhD; 1994
  • Blueberry Picking Tips
Keywords: highbush blueberry, blueberry harvesting, pick blueberries

About this Author

Krissi Maarx is a freelance writer who has written Web content since 2006. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in human services, with studies focusing on holistic healing, mental health care and medicinal botany. As a pet groomer, too, Maarx writes many dog-related articles for print and the Web.

Photo by: Aconcagua/Wikimedia Commons