Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
University of California
Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Late season blueberry field day features rabbiteye varieties

Some people say rabbiteye blueberries get their nickname from the circle on the blossom end the fruit. Others say the fruit's tendency to turn pink before going blue is reminiscent of a rabbit's eye. Whatever the reason, late ripening rabbiteye blueberries can provide San Joaquin Valley growers the ability to harvest fruit through the end of August, capturing a potentially lucrative market window, says UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Manuel Jimenez.

The rabbiteye blueberry variety Rahi.
Jimenez hosted blueberry growers at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center today to test the taste and texture of late-season blueberries. The participants also saw Jimenez demonstrate proper pruning techniques and had the opportunity to practice pruning on blueberry plants in Jimenez' test plots.

Porterville blueberry farmer Young Kwun attended the meeting with his farm manager Miguel Jaramillo Garcia. Kwun asked Jimenez how to replant blueberry bushes that had died.

"You can't do it," Jimenez replied. In the test plots, Jimenez and his staff replanted 60 blueberry bushes, and none of them survived. He tried a second time with the same result, and then inquired with blueberry growers around the country, finding that they also could not replant blueberries.

"Replanting is an issue with blueberries," Jimenez said. "We don't know what it is."

"You just saved me a bunch of money," said Kwun, whose 70-acre farm has a number of blank spots.

Kwun said he has missed the last few blueberry field days at Kearney, but that won't happen again.

"I'm thinking I should come every year," Kwun said. "I learned a lot."

Manuel Jimenez, left, speaks with farmers Miguel Jaramillo Garcia and Young Kwun.

Growers gather in the KARE blueberry test plot, which was established 11 years ago.
The "Powder Blue" rabbiteye blueberry tends to shrivel in the hot August sun.
Field day participants practice pruning skills.

Posted on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM

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