So you’ve just planted some blueberry plants and can’t wait to see them turn into a fruit laden bush. Waiting isn’t the easiest for many gardeners. However, tending to the plants, watering, feeding, pruning, and guarding them from pests and diseases until they finally bear ripe fruit demands patience and persistence. Nonetheless, you’re not wrong in asking the question: how long does it take for blueberries to ripen?
As it turns out, the answer isn’t simple. The length of time the blueberry bush takes from the moment you plant to harvest varies with the variety of the blueberry you’re growing, your climate and the level of care you give the plants. Continue reading to learn about what to expect when growing blueberries.
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How Long After Planting Do Blueberry Bushes Produce?
Growing blueberries takes some patience. You can’t expect the bushes to start blooming and fruiting as soon as you plant them in the ground. You’ll need to wait for a few years before you can enjoy a viable crop from your bush.
Typically, it takes between 2 to 3 years for the blueberry bush to mature and give its first major crop. While the bush will bloom during the first growing season too, gardeners often prune all the flowers in the first few growing seasons to help the plant concentrate its energies in establishing a strong root system before it can start giving fruit. Once the plants have enough top growth and a strong root system, you can let the blooms that come out during the 2nd or 3rd year of planting to develop further and set fruit.
How Long Does It Take Blueberries To Ripen
You’ll see buds on blueberry bushes in summers. The buds open up into flowers the following spring. The flowers will start yielding berries between early summer to early fall. The amount of time that the berries take to ripen depends on the number of chilling hours that the specific cultivar you’re growing requires.
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Some cultivars give fruits that stay green for longer than other varieties before they finally start ripening and are ready to pick. These cultivars typically require longer chilling time. You’ll need to pick a cultivar that’s suited to growing in your region. If the required chilling period is not provided to the blueberry bush, berry development will be affected and the ripening will be delayed.
If you live in a warm climate, low-chill blueberries, particularly a Rabbiteye or Southern Highbush variety, will be more suitable since they require less chilling hours to ripen. Early maturing Rabbiteye varieties typically need 250 or less chilling hours to ripen. They are suitable for USDA zones 7 to 9.
What Month Do Blueberries Ripen in
Once the blueberry bushes are fully mature, the time of the year they ripen primarily depends on the variety you are growing and the climate they are growing in. Most early season varieties are ready to pick by June, while mid-season varieties will make you wait until July to pick ripe berries off the vines. If you’re growing late-season varieties, the berries won’t ripen until August. The months to ripen can also vary with the region you are growing it in. For example, in South County, early season blueberries can ripen as early as May.
How To Tell If The Blueberries Are Ripe
To pick blueberries and enjoy the best flavors, it’s important to know exactly when to harvest them. After the blueberry fruit turns completely blue, it is fully ripe. However, the acid level will continue to fall and the berries will keep getting sweeter for the coming 3 to 7 days after they turn blue. Harvest them as soon as they turn greyish blue and start falling off the bushes easily. Once the berries are greyish blue, they will be much sweeter than the glossy blue color in the earlier stages of the ripening process.
Why Are My Blueberries Not Ripening
If you’re worried that your blueberries aren’t ripening in the expected length of time for that cultivar, there can be a number of reasons behind the problem. The most common reason for the problem is that you might have planted a variety that’s not suited to your region. It’s possible that the cultivar is not getting the number of chilling hours it requires to develop ripe berries. In this case, there’s no other option but to start fresh with a cultivar that grows well in your climate.
Besides the variety and its growing specifications, there can also be other reasons for the delayed ripening of blueberries on the bushes. If the blueberries aren’t getting enough sunlight, the ripening of berries may slow down.
Another possible reason is insufficient soil acidity. If the soil you’re growing blueberries in isn’t acidic enough, the development of the bushes and ripening of fruits may suffer. Test the soil pH and make sure it’s between 4 and 4.5 for optimal berry production. Acid peat and used coffee grounds are ideal organic amendments if you want to acidify the soil for blueberries.
So now you know how much waiting to expect before you can drive your teeth into juicy, sweet berries fresh from the bushes! Choose a blueberry variety suited to your region and give it the optimal condition it asks for to help it develop excellently and give lots of fresh berries to harvest and enjoy through the summers!