If you’re looking for one of the oldest and most popular blueberries in the United States, look no further than the Jersey Blueberry. The Jersey is a classic in terms of private and commercially-grown blueberries. When properly cared for, Jersey shrubs are tall, well-shaped, and very high-yielding. They’re also one of the easiest blueberry shrubs to grow, especially for beginners.
In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the Jersey Blueberry.
History of the Jersey Blueberry
The Jersey Blueberry, also known as Vaccinium corymbosum, is one of the oldest blueberries in the U.S. It was invented in 1916 by a group of breeders in New Jersey and released to the public in 1928. Jersey is often thought of as one of the gold standards of blueberry shrubs, and modern plants are often compared to it.
Characteristics of the Jersey Blueberry
Jersey is a northern highbush variety blueberry shrub and one of the tallest of its kind. It typically produces a high yield of large, juicy blueberries. Jersey is a vigorous, erect, and hardy bush that’s adaptive to whatever area you choose to grow it in. It’s noteworthy for being one of the best plants to grow in northern climates where the weather is harsher.
The Jersey Blueberry requires a chill time of 800 to 1000 hours.
The ripening season for Jersey blueberries is usually mid to late summer, with August being the typical month of ripening.
Jersey blueberries are on the sweet side and turn blue to light blue when they’re ripe for the picking. These blueberries are also firm and plump in texture and will produce a nice crunch when you bite into a ripe one.
Jersey Blueberry shrubs offer berries that are medium to large. As your plant matures, it will produce berries of increasing sizes.
You should plant Jersey Blueberries in hardiness zones 4-7. Hardiness zones refer to the minimum temperature typical of a climate. Jersey Blueberries are hardy plants but won’t survive frost or freezing temperatures.
Size and Spacing
Jersey Blueberry shrubs aren’t just renowned for the quality of their berries but also for the size and quality of the bush itself. It’s one of the tallest blueberry shrubs and can grow up to heights of 6-10 feet at full maturity. Jersey also spreads wide and can be between 5 and 6 feet wide.
To give your plants the best chance of success, you should plant them at least 5 to 6 feet apart. Like I just said, Jersey Blueberry shrubs grow wide and tall, and you don’t want to cramp them into a small space.
The Jersey Blueberry is a self-pollinating variety and doesn’t require cross-pollination for successful growth. However, cross-pollinating with the Elliot, Darrow, or Sweetheart blueberry will produce the best results for the Jersey and whatever plant you cross with it. Whichever plant you choose should be planted within 50′ of your Jersey Blueberry shrub.
Blueberry Shrub Care
Jersey Blueberries are hardy and vigorous, and cross-pollination improves their yield. However, the only way to ensure the success of your shrub is to care for it properly. Here’s what you need to know about blueberry shrub care.
Like most blueberry plants, Jersey should get a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. The preference is that they get full sun, but partial shade will do as well. However, you should also consider your climate. Jersey can withstand temperatures of up to 85 degrees, so make sure your shrub gets light shade if this is the typical temperature in your area.
Soil should be acidic and well-drained with a pH level between 4.5 and 5.5. You should have your soil tested to determine the acidity levels and add or remove from it accordingly. The best way to increase acidity is to elemental sulfur in the form of compost.
Blueberry shrubs require constant moisture but without flooding. However, in times of drought, Jersey Blueberries will still produce fruit if they’re under-watered. They simply won’t be as productive.
For maximum results, you can add mulching with a mixture of pine straw and pine bark. This will help drain the soil your shrub is planted in and help your plant grow. Fertilizing should be done in the spring with a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
For pruning purposes, you should start by removing small spindly branches that are unproductive. As your plant continues to grow, only prune branches that block sunlight and impede your plant’s growth. In winter, you should also prune your shrub to remove any dead, dying, or crowded branches. Follow this link for more information about pruning blueberry shrubs.
Like all blueberry shrubs, Jersey is prone to a few diseases. However, because of how hardy it is, Jersey is more intolerant to diseases than many bushes. Here are a few diseases to be on guard for with your Jersey Blueberry shrub.
Pests often prove an even bigger threat to Jersey Blueberries than diseases. Birds, bugs, beetles, and anything else that can crawl or fly will be anxious to get to your blueberries, the leaves, and the rest of its components.
For information about how to identify, eliminate, and deter pests, read our blog post on the 9 common pests you’ll encounter with blueberries.
When to Harvest Jersey Blueberries
Jersey should produce blueberries ready to harvest in late July to late August. Harvesting blueberries is tricky work, and you should read this guide before beginning.
Common Uses For Jersey Blueberries
Let’s look at some of the most common uses for the Jersey blueberry.
What Does This Blueberry Taste Like?
Jersey blueberries are very sweet but not to the point of tasting syrupy. They’re one of the best berries to eat plain or mix in a dish.
Jersey blueberries are perfect for baking anything from muffins to cupcakes to anything else you can think of. Their sweetness is almost enough to remove the need for additional sweeteners.
Whether you pick them yourself or buy them at a grocery store, Jersey blueberries are delicious to eat raw. They make for a perfect and healthy treat in place of other sweets.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Jersey blueberries are also a great candidate for canning, freezing, or drying. They hold up well over time and maintain their delicious taste and sweetness.
If we’ve got your mouth watering for these delicious blueberries, here are a few recipes to get you started out.
- Blueberry Balsamic Glazed Salmon
- Blueberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
- Blueberry-Dijon Chicken
- Easy Crumble Recipe
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Aside from being absolutely delicious, blueberries are also proven to have numerous health benefits. From helping with weight loss to lowering blood pressure, blueberries are a valuable fruit, to be sure. Here are a few of the known health benefits of blueberries.
- Muscle recovery
- Excellent to improve heart health
- Can fight off urinary tract infections
- Good for bones due to high volumes of calcium, vitamin K, iron, and zinc
Where to Buy Jersey Blueberry Plants
If you want to try your hand at planting and growing your own Jersey blueberries, check out Nature Hills Nursery. Other options will include your local nursery or hardware store.
Where to Buy Jersey Blueberries
Because of how popular Jersey blueberries are, there’s a solid chance that your local grocery store will carry them. If not, your next best bet is at a farmer’s market.
Wrapping Up the Jersey Blueberry
While the Jersey Blueberry is one of the oldest still grown today, it’s certainly not out of style. Jersey has a taste and sweetness that’s timeless and makes it the envy of many other blueberry bushes. They’re also an excellent option for first-time blueberry growers, as they’re one of the hardiest and toughest of all blueberry plants. You won’t regret giving these blueberries a chance!
Is there a Jersey Blueberry or two growing in your garden? If so, we’d love to hear about your experiences with it in the comments section below! Excited for more blueberry content? Then check out our blueberry page to learn all about how to grow, care for, and harvest this delicious fruit!