If you’re a grower using an evergreen system and you’re looking for a no-chill blueberry that delivers exceptional yields, has a vigorous, upright growth habit, and high-quality fruit, then the AtlasBlue Blueberry could be a great addition to your orchard.
The AtlasBlue ripens about the same time as Ventura and Biloxi, but its ripening period is a lot more concentrated. The berries range from medium to large-sized, are uniform, and have a medium dark-blue color. The scars found on floricane fruit are medium-sized and dry, while primocane fruit have slightly larger scars. When fully ripened, the fruit has a very aromatic flavor.
History of the AtlasBlue Blueberry
The AtlasBlue Blueberry (FCM12-045) was developed in Lowell, Oregon, in 2008. This commercial variety was developed for the fresh hand-harvested market. The plant is a cross between female parent “FF-128” and pollen parent “ZF04-002.” AtlasBlue was grown in propagation trays and shipped to Mexico in March 2011. Once they were large enough to plant, the bushes were planted in Colima City, Colima, Mexico, where the plant was selected in 2012. Some of the attributes of the AtlasBlue Blueberry plant include:
- Very vigorous
- High yielding
- Highly evergreen
- Zero chill
AtlasBlue Blueberry / Fruit Characteristics
The AtlasBlue Blueberry fruit has many unique characteristics that set it apart from other blueberries.
Typically, most blueberry varieties require a bare minimum number of chilling hours each winter to achieve optimum fruiting yields. Chill hours are usually less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit but above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. In most cases, if a blueberry bush doesn’t get enough chill hours during the winter, the plant’s flower buds might not open the following spring or open unevenly.
This is not the case for AtlasBlue Blueberry plants that require no chilling hours and are cross-bred to perform in hotter climates.
AtlasBlue Blueberry plants are floricane fruiting (or summer-bearing), which means they only produce berries during their second year of growth.
These berries ripen around midseason, starting on July 4.
You can also go to the Minnetonka Orchards website and access our super-handy guide showing the right time to pick blueberries.
- Berry flavor: Sweet with low acidity
- Berry color: Pantone Purple Impression
- Berry color after polishing: Pantone Dark Navy 19-4013
- Berry flesh color: Pantone Reed
- Berry firmness: High
- Storage Quality: Excellent
- Self-fruitfulness: Excellent
- Ripe berry size: Large
- Average ripe berry weight: 2.25 grams
- Average ripe berry height: 12.86 millimeters from calyx to scar
- Average ripe berry diameter: 20.42 millimeters
The optimum planting zones for AtlasBlue Blueberries are zones 7-10, similar to other southern highbush varieties such as Biloxi and Victoria. These berries are designed to grow in evergreen environments with very mild winters and hot summers.
You can also check USDA Hardiness Zones for more information before planting.
Also, we offer a handy reference guide called “How to Grow Blueberries.”
Size and Spacing
The average size of an Atlas Blueberry plant is 3.6 feet. Spacing recommendations for blueberry bushes are as follows:
- Solid Hedgerows: Space 2 to 2 1/2 feet apart
- Individually: Space up to six feet apart
- In Rows: Space eight to ten feet between rows (this depends on the equipment used for mowing or cultivating)
With the AtlasBlue, cross-pollination is significant to ensure optimum fruit size, more so than for BiancaBlue®’ FCM12-087.’ Here are a few other plants we recommend for cross-pollination:
- Victoria (no-chill)
- BiancaBlue (no-chill)
- AtlasBlue (no-chill)
- Biloxi (no-chill)
- Jewel (low-chill)
- Emerald (low-chill)
AtlasBlue Blueberry Bush Care
As a southern highbush, AtlasBlue has a greater tolerance for higher summer temperatures. However, one should take great care not to overwater in an environment with poorly drained, heavy clay soil.
Blueberries require soil that has a high concentration of nitrogen. The most popular types are nitrogen soil with an ammonium form, such as cottonseed meal, ammonium sulfate, urea, and sulfur-coated urea.
Avoid using fertilizers that contain the nitrate form of nitrogen as this form is toxic to blueberry plants.
With blueberries, you fertilize once during the early spring months, then again during late spring.
Blueberries require soil that’s rich and well-drained. Ideal pH levels are between 4.0 and 5.5. You also want to ensure your soil has plenty of rich organic matter, such as aged compost. Pine fines and peat moss are also prevalent organic matter for blueberry soil.
Blueberries, as a rule, need lots of sunlight. You want to avoid planting them near trees, besides the shade issue, for several reasons. One reason is that trees attract birds. Many species of birds love dining on blueberries.
Another reason concerns several diseased trees that can transmit to blueberry plants that negatively impact air circulation.
Also, trees have more extensive roots that compete for nutrient resources. This isn’t a fair competition for blueberry plants that usually have smaller root systems that develop slower than other plants.
Ideally, you want your blueberry bushes to get eight to ten hours of unfiltered direct sunlight each day.
As we mentioned above, blueberries have roots that develop later than many plants. Due to this delay, you want to ensure that you routinely water your plants deeply. However, if you have heavy clay soil with poor drainage, you’ll need to reduce watering to avoid over-watering your blueberries.
Also, if you’re using a drip irrigation system, make sure it’s providing even moisture throughout your growing area.
Pruning is essential as it encourages the growth of new berry-producing stems. Pruning also removes unproductive or dead branches, increasing your fruit’s overall quality, as bushes can put more of their energy into their fruit rather than its leaves.
For more details about how to prune your blueberry bushes, check out our handy guide titled “How to Prune Blueberries,” located on our website.
Diseases & Care
Please consult our website guide for more information on the types of diseases and pests to look out for when growing blueberries.
Common Uses For the AtlasBlue Blueberry
Aside from making big, juicy blueberries, the AtlasBlue Blueberry bush is also great for landscaping projects.
And, of course, you can use blueberries for all kinds of recipes for meals, desserts, and even alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails!
What Do AtlasBlue Blueberries Taste Like?
AtlasBlue Blueberries are very sweet with low acidity.
Blueberries are not only excellent in desserts such as pies and cakes, but they are also delicious when cooked with meats like pork, poultry, fish, and beef.
One of our favorite recipes is for Filet Mignon in Blueberry-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce!
Of course, you can always grab a few handfuls of raw blueberries for a delicious, healthy treat. They are also delicious in oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, salads, and fruit smoothies.
Canning is not the best method for blueberries when it comes to preservation. However, if you wish to make some delicious blueberry jam or preserves, you can find tons of amazing recipes online.
The best method for preserving blueberries is freezing. Now, this method does take a bit more work, but if done correctly, you’ll have perfectly preserved blueberries you can keep in your freezer for months.
- First, you want to wash and rinse your blueberries well.
- Next, place them on a cookie sheet lined with a couple of paper towels.
- Then, take a few paper towels and carefully blot your blueberries until dry. Just be careful not to smash or rub them too hard.
- Finally, you’ll transfer your dry blueberries onto a cookie sheet, providing each blueberry with a bit of space. Spacing is essential as you don’t want to end up with a big icy blueberry clump or have your blueberries lose their round shape.
When it comes to drying your blueberries, the best way is to use a food dehydrator. However, you can also use your oven.
- First, place your blueberries on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Next, bake them at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for about three hours.
- Before taking them out of the oven, ensure they are thoroughly dried to your satisfaction, but be careful not to leave them in too long.
- Once they are cooled, transfer your blueberries to ziplock bags or airtight containers for long-term storage.
Recipes for AtlasBlue Blueberries
You can find lots of fun and tasty recipes for blueberries on our Minnetonka Orchards website. Even if you see a recipe that doesn’t use blueberries, you can always substitute blueberries for the original fruit.
Here are just a few tasty examples:
- Easy Muffins
- One-Bowl Fruit Bread
- Vanilla Almond Cake
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Easy Crumble Recipe
- Rustic Fruit Tart (Galette)
- Rustic Cobbler Recipe
- Almond Fruit Cheesecake
Health Benefits of the AtlasBlue Blueberry
Blueberries are more than just sweet treats. They are also considered a superfood rich in nutrients your body needs.
They are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber, manganese, potassium, and various age-defying antioxidants.
A few conditions and situations blueberries can improve include:
- Colon cancer
- Cognitive disabilities and dementia
- High blood pressure
- Weight control
- Stroke recovery
Where To Buy AtlasBlue Blueberry Bushes
Finding AtlasBlue blueberry shrubs at your local nurseries may depend on the region you live in. You can also check online or contact nurseries in states like Florida, Texas, and California to see if they have some in stock.
You can also find a variety of low-chill blueberry bushes at Nature Hills Nursery.
Where To Buy AtlasBlue Blueberries
You might have luck finding AtlasBlue Blueberries at your local farmers’ market or specialty grocery stores, depending on your region.
The Last Word On the AtlasBlue Blueberry
For southern evergreen growers interested in a productive blueberry bush that produces large, sweet blueberries, the AtlasBlue Blueberry might be the perfect fit. It’s one of few blueberries that require no chilling hours, and it can withstand higher temperatures than most southern highbush varieties.
Do you enjoy learning all about blueberries? Then click here for our other blueberry-related blog posts.