BLUEBERRY | How Does it Grow?


If I could nominate one fruit to be the national fruit of the United States, it would be – the blueberry. Sorry, Apple…Americans, we fiercely guard our independence, we cherish our freedom; we’re even known to be a bit wild…Let’s go with that. Because that, my friends, is
also the spirit of the blueberry. Even though it’s native to North America – even though it’s been growing here for thousands of years – it remains totally untamed until very recently. You know, my grandmother never even saw a blueberry as a young woman, and she ran a fruit stand in Brooklyn! It wasn’t until the early 1940s that farmed blueberries really took off nationwide. Before that, if you wanted blueberries, you had to find and pick them in the wild…So why was it so hard to farm the blueberry? To understand that, we have to find out: Blueberries – How Does It Grow? Our investigation starts in the storied Pine Barrens of New Jersey, whose official state fruit is the blueberry! This is Whitesbog Village, the birthplace of the global blueberry business. Today, it’s a National Historic Site, and home to a big annual blueberry festival. A century ago, it was the first place anywhere to commercially farm the High-bush Blueberry. Wait, wait, wait, wait, stop the music. We’re not going to whitewash history…To fully appreciate the blueberries’ place in American culture, we have to go back to the huge role it played in the lives of our native people. For them, the blueberry was food; it was medicine; it was a spiritual symbol. In
fact, they called them “star berries”, for their perfect five pointed star at the blossom end. They were a gift from the Great Spirit. From roots to leaves, Indigenous people use every part of the blueberry bush. They brewed a tea for women in childbirth, they boiled the blueberries down into a thick cough syrup. They also dried them – so they could be eaten to the long lean winter months. The waves of European immigrants who came to this country embraced this new fruit, but none of them as deeply at the Native
American peoples. It wasn’t until 1911, that blueberries got serious attention again, this time from the daughter of a cranberry farmer. She lived right here at Whitesbog – then New Jersey’s largest cranberry farm. Elizabeth Coleman White, a heroine in the male-dominated stories of American agriculture. She had the vision to expand her father’s cranberry operation to include blueberries in the summer. And so she invited Frederick Coville, a botanist who had just made a groundbreaking blueberry discovery. Previously, people had dug up wild blueberry bushes, and replanted them in their best soil. They nurtured them like they would any other fruit crop, only to watch them die. Coville figured out a strange but fundamental secret: blueberries demand highly acidic soil – soil that can’t support most other crops. And Jersey’s barren pinelands were perfect for blueberries. They grew wild everywhere. But farming is all about growing a consistent crop, so White and
Coville set out to find the best of the wild blueberries that they could then
cultivate and eventually crossbreed. I should probably note here that there’s not just one kind of blueberry, just like there are many kinds of apples – there are blueberries with different colors, sizes, tastes, and textures. White enlisted locals to search the woods for large berries. She named each plant they choose to cultivate after the person found it. Now to grow a whole field of Rubels, White and Coville used the same cloning technique that’s used today. For that, we’re heading to Atlantic Blueberry Company. Once the world’s largest blueberry farm, it’s still the largest in New Jersey. The US – by the way – is the
worldwide leader in cultivated blueberries. While Canada is tops for wild ones. What’s the difference? Wild berries grow on low bushes found
wild, then fertilized and cared for, like farmed ones. But we’re following the story of the cultivated High Bush, which provides the lion’s share of the world’s
fresh blueberries. The life of a blueberry bush begins in the nursery. Small cuttings from a chosen variety are planted and nurtured, until they’re strong enough to be transferred to the field. A modest harvest can take five years, but a bush bears fruit for up to 50. Blueberries are born in the spring, after the bushes bloom with bell-shaped flowers. You can see that star shape at the tips of their petals. When the
berries emerge, they’re the lightest of green. Then they
deepen into reddish pink, and finally into their famous dusty blue. To extend the season, most farms grow at least three different blueberries – ones that
ripen early, midseason, and late. So if you think your blueberries taste different throughout the summer, you’re right! They are not all the same variety. But there’s an even deeper secret here: the best blueberries, ones with flavor that would knock your socks off, they are not sold in stores. The big farms don’t grow
them – they’re too risky. The berries are too delicate, or the bushes too sensitive. But you might find these tasty ones at Farmers’ Markets. They’re also available in seed catalogs – so you can grow your own. That means you can pop these little powerhouses of Vitamin C and A, plus antioxidants whenever you like. When it’s time to harvest, blueberries don’t make it easy. They don’t all ripen at the same time on the bush, so pickers need to harvest with as much care as they do speed, taking only the ripest of berries. Just to get this thing on is difficult…okay
I’m ready…and it’s a gentle…I’m watching…a gentle roll of the thumb, that
gets these off. Oh…uh oh…see that’s not good… These guys have to have the lightest of
hand. This sort of frosted color of the blueberry is a protective coating – it’s called the “bloom”. And if you touch them too much, they turn really dark like that, which
means that the coating is off, and it means that the shelf-life of these
berries is cut by…two or three days. (Denny): I really don’t call them “pickers”, I call them professional harvesters. There’s this idea that anybody can come out here and they’re going to come up with a…with a great quality berry…It’s not gonna happen! (Nicole): No…you don’t want to see inside my bucket…(Denny): Oh no… (Nicole): No…I know…look at them…look…can I have a sticker? (Denny): Yes…you are gonna have a sticker…we are gonna give you a sticker… (Nicole): Good job…(Denny): Good job…you know… I am NOT getting the hang of
this… At Atlantic, berries sold fresh are harvested by hand, but usually after two pickings, machines do a final sweep, shaking the bushes to release the remaining berries. Since they may suffer a few knocks, they go straight to the freezer to be sold as frozen berries. Meanwhile, hand picked berries hit the
sorting line. A color scanner weeds out under ripe berries – anything that isn’t blue. These may go into juice, purees, even pet food. The berries then drop onto a
pressure plate. Softer, over-ripe berries moves slower than firm one, so they are rejected from the line and often wind up as frozen. Thanks to the pioneering work done right here in New Jersey a century ago, blueberries are now farmed all over the
world, from New Zealand to the Netherlands. And the antioxidant craze has helped global production triple in the last decade alone. It’s a huge accomplishment for a wild little American berry – or maybe it was destiny…After all, the Native Americans believe the blueberry was a divine gift – and so
did one of our most American of authors: “When I see as now in climbing one of our hills, huckleberry and blueberry bushes bent to the ground with fruit, I think of
them as fruits fit to grow on the most Olympian or heaven pointing hills. It does
not occur to you at first that where such thoughts are suggested is Mount
Olympus, and that you who taste these berries are a God. Why in his only royal moment should man abdicate his throne? (Henry David Thoreau) Wait, before you go, I have one small request. We are getting closer and closer to 100,000 subscribers! If all of you just asked one friend – one person to subscribe to this channel, then we would smash through 100,000. And if you’re not subscribed, go ahead and do it – click, click that subscribe…where is it…is it here? And there? Click that subscribe
button, wherever it is! the more subscribers we have on this channel, the more resources we have to make more videos. So go do it! Do it! Let’s get…pick
up your phone pick…text…text a text a friend right now! Text’em…yeah…okay…alright
let’s do this guys! Thank you – high five, high five!

100 thoughts on “BLUEBERRY | How Does it Grow?

  1. I have 30 blueberry bushes, I thought it was a lot .. I want dozens more, heck dozens of dozens ought to be enough. Anyone want to GoFundMe and reap the berry rewards?

  2. Here in the Netherlands blueberries are very expensive but I always buy them because they are delicious

  3. I have some blueberries dried out from last fall can i plant each berry and hav the seeds sprout that way

  4. She got me to hit the like and subscribe button when she paid homage to the Native Americans 👏🏽👏🏽👌🏽

  5. Those fake blueberrys…. Bush blueberrys are not real ones.. Come to finland and go to any forest and the forestfloor will be full of much tastier blueberrys than anywhere else!

  6. Firstever wild blueberry patches i'd stumbled upon, was on a military manuever @ Ft. Bragg N.C. back in 1973. Our platoon had passed through batch after batch of them. Foolishly, i'd managed to fill my helmet half full of the ripest ones. Suddenly, we came under ambush fire from an opposing agressor team. After hastily donning my helmet, blueberry juice stains had covered most of my face & neck areas. The stains however, made for a fairly good camoflauge covering for this child's caucasian skin. -former sgt. 82nd abn. 6419

  7. Blueberry is the national fruit, yet it only was popular in the 40's.. You don't seem to understand the concept of a national entity..

  8. I quit when she said Blueberry Represent America over the APPLE. She must have a Blueberry Farm of her own and can't sell them quick enough.

  9. Thanks for your informative video but cream on the cake is your bubbly personality.
    May you soon hit a million.

  10. Subscribed! First time on this channel and love it! Now watching all the other videos lol. Super interested and educational! Keep the videos coming! Great job. 👍👌

  11. one shot of the host walking dramatically down a row of bushes, you can see that her teeth are a light shade of blue.  Snacking on your work?  8:39

  12. They are a gift from the Echad / One that created this planet, but only the organic non-sprayed blueberries.

  13. Ask if sprayed with Round Up weed killer and Pesticides then NOT Wild and should be labeled May Cause Cancer, call and ask if sprayed, Demand Organic

  14. New Joerzy huh? I thought the only thing that was in that state were grandmas cannolis and there pasta sauces with the spaghetti.

  15. Are blueberries can thrive in places with warm climates like here in my country Philippines?..Just asking

  16. When I moved back to Canada, my native country, in 2002, I was graced with living on a property that had a baker's dozen of high-bush blueberry bushes. The first year I lived there, once they were ripe, my mother and I could pick four, four and a half pounds a night… the next year was much drier, which I didn't realize until it was too late to water the bushes, and I ended up with… three berries. =3

  17. um, i can find blueberries in my nearest forest

    so baically i have known how they grow for like my whole life

  18. There's native European Blueberries too. A very famous viking Harold Bluetooth is said to get his name from them. They say he ate so many it stained his teeth.

  19. Wonderful little programme. This narrator is the best I've seen and heard in a very long time; she has a light touch, is really interesting and gets across her facts really well. All round excellence. Thank you.

  20. Well done. Got my sub. I can't purchase high quality ones but I can grow'em! I love that they don't ripen at the same time, I get a couple months of production off a single bush. I believe that dusty coating is a couple hundred types of yeast, nothing wrong with consuming it.

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