For commercial growers, local market growers, and small farms, Last Call Blueberry bushes are a great option for blueberries to lengthen the harvest season because they ripen very late in the season. Last Calls are upright bushes that show vigorous growth and produce high yields. The blueberries produced by Last Call bushes are large and have a classic sweet blueberry flavor that is slightly aromatic.
If you want blueberry season to last longer in your garden, keep reading to see if the Last Call Blueberry will thrive in your area.
History of the Last Call Blueberry
Last Call Blueberries are a relatively new variety and were selected in 2006 in Lowell, Oregon. This blueberry cultivar was discovered as a northern highbush hybrid blueberry and was named Last Call because it ripens very late in the blueberry harvest season. However, Last Call blueberry plants originated in a controlled cross-pollination with the Elliot blueberry plant and the Ozarkblue cultivar.
Last Call Blueberry bushes were propagated using traditional propagation techniques. The great thing about Last Call is that although the fruit ripens at the same time as Elliot and Aurora, Last Call blueberries are sweet whereas the other two varieties are more tart.
Being able to harvest late-season blueberries that are sweet was a big win for blueberry growers. Late-season blueberries command a premium price because they aren’t widely available. Also, Elliot blueberries often get wrinkly and soft, and Aurora blueberry plants produce poor yield because they’re smaller plants. Last Call blueberry plants solved all of those problems.
Last Call Blueberry / Fruit Characteristics
The fruit of the Last Call Blueberry bush is large and flavorful. These blueberries are much sweeter than other late-ripening blueberries, and they have a classic blueberry taste and aroma.
For Last Call blueberries, you need about 1000 chilling hours.
Last Call blueberries ripen very late, and at the same time as Elliott blueberries and Aurora blueberries (August – September). For this reason, Last Call blueberries give growers in the northern states increased opportunities to extend the season for fresh blueberries.
We also have a guide on the Minneopa Orchards website that will explain the right time to pick blueberries.
Last Call blueberries are delicious and sweet. The skin color is dark navy in color and they have a moderate wax on them. The flesh of the fruit is blonde in color.
These berries are much firmer than Elliot blueberries.
Last Call blueberries are large berries, measuring about 12.8-18.4 millimeters.
Last Call Blueberry bushes are well-suited to growing in Zones 4-7. Be sure to check the USDA Hardiness Zones of the blueberries you’re considering for your garden or orchard.
For more information on growing Last Call Blueberries, reference our guide: “How to Grow Blueberries.”
Size and Spacing
Four-year-old Last Call Blueberry bushes average about 48 inches in height.
The canopy diameter of plants that are four years old is about 30 inches.
Last Call Blueberry bushes are self-fertile.
Blueberry Bush Care
A good fertilizer to use for blueberries is an acidic fertilizer such as Bio Spectrum organic fertilizer. We recommend fertilizing every three weeks during the spring and through mid-summer.
For best results, Last Call Blueberries should have a soil pH between 4.5 and 4.8. Soil for growing blueberries should be rich and well-drained.
All blueberry bushes enjoy full sunlight.
Blueberry bushes develop slowly and their establishment can take longer than other plants. Water consistently and deeply to encourage vigorous growth.
To learn more about pruning blueberry bushes, read “How to Prune Blueberries” on our website.
Diseases & Care
To learn about diseases that affect blueberry bushes, see our website guide.
It’s not just people who love blueberries and, chances are, you’ll end up dealing with a pest or two. 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 Last Call Blueberries
As mentioned earlier, Last Call is a late season blueberry so the fruit will be ready for harvesting toward the end of the summer. In August, start checking your Last Call shrubs for blueberries that are fully ripe. You’ll need to make multiple trips to your blueberry bush since the fruit doesn’t all ripen at the same time.
To know exactly which berries are ready to pick, visit our guide “When Is the Right Time To Pick Blueberries?“
Common Uses For the Last Call Blueberry
In testing, Last Call blueberries held up better in storage than Elliot blueberries. Last Call blueberries are perfect for eating fresh either by themselves or with food such as yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal.
What Do Last Call Blueberries Taste Like?
Last Call blueberries are large, meaty blueberries that taste like classic blueberries. Their flavor is also aromatic. These blueberries are sweeter than the Aurora blueberry or Elliot blueberry. In blind taste tests, Last Call blueberries were preferred over both Elliot and Aurora.
While Last Call blueberries are excellent eaten raw and with cereal, they are also perfect for cooking because they hold their shape well. Use Last Call blueberries to make your favorite quick breads, such as blueberry loaf and blueberry muffins.
Like all blueberries, Last Call blueberries are perfect for eating raw. They are also excellent when added to yogurt, oatmeal, cereals, and salads.
Canning isn’t the best way for preserving blueberries, but you can make blueberry jam or preserves so that you can enjoy the freshness of blueberries even in the off-season.
Freezing blueberries is the best way to preserve them. To freeze Last Call blueberries, wash and rinse the berries well, then lay them out on a cookie sheet that’s layered with paper towels. Use more paper towels to gently blot the blueberries dry.
Place your dry blueberries on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet with space between them. This is important so that you don’t end up with a huge clump of blueberries. Doing it this way allows you to have gorgeous whole frozen blueberries that don’t lose their shape.
To dry blueberries, you can use a food dehydrator or dry them in the oven. To dry your blueberries in the oven, follow these steps.
- Put the berries on a parchment-lined cookie sheet with space between the berries.
- Bake them for three hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow your dried berries to cool completely to room temperature.
- Transfer them to airtight containers or zipper bags.
Recipes for Last Call Blueberries
On our website, we have several excellent recipes that can be adapted to blueberries. For whatever fruit is listed in the original recipe, simply substitute your own fresh, dried, or frozen blueberries.
- Vanilla Almond Cake
- Easy Crumble Recipe
- Rustic Cobbler Recipe
- One-Bowl Fruit Bread
- Almond Fruit Cheesecake
- Easy Muffins
- Rustic Fruit Tart (Galette)
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
Health Benefits of the Last Call Blueberry
Blueberries are loaded with nutrition, and blueberries are also wonderful antioxidants. You can take blueberry supplements, but there is no substitute for eating fresh blueberries. Specifically, blueberries may help with any of the following health conditions.
- Stroke recovery
- High blood pressure
- Weight control
- Colon cancer
- Cognitive disabilities and dementia
Where To Buy Last Call Blueberry Bushes
Last Call blueberries are grown primarily for commercial fresh fruit production, but local market growers can extend their harvest seasons by growing Last Call blueberries. If you fall into this category, you will need to get in touch with online sellers of Last Call Blueberry bushes. To grow Last Call blueberries, you have to sign a non-propagation agreement before the bushes can be shipped.
Where To Buy Last Call Blueberries
You can find Last Call blueberries for sale at most farmers markets later in the harvest season.
Wrapping up the Last Call Blueberry
If you’re a commercial grower or a small local grower, growing Last Call blueberries will give you a late-season harvest. Last Call blueberries are sweet berries and this makes them popular with home chefs and commercial chefs.
Do you have Last Call Blueberries in your garden? If so, let us know about your experiences in the comments section below! To read more about blueberries, click this link for our blueberry blog pots.