Blueberry season is a favorite time of year for many. But the time between now and then can seem to drag on forever while you wait for your precious blueberries to ripen. Unless, however, you choose the Sharpblue Blueberry — it ripens as early as May! If you want to get your hands on some fresh, delightful, scrumptious blueberries before the usual blueberry season, the early-ripening Sharpblue may be the one for you.
Keep reading to learn about this early-bird blueberry variety.
History of the Sharpblue Blueberry
The Sharpblue Blueberry was released by the University of Florida in 1976. Praised for the sweet taste of its berries and its low chill hours, the Sharpblue is ideal for blueberry lovers in the southern states.
Characteristics of the Sharpblue Blueberry
Sharpblue Blueberries are southern highbush cultivars, meaning that they grow well in warmer regions and tend to be on the taller side of blueberry bush height.
All blueberry bushes require a winter season in order for their growing cycle to work properly. Without experiencing winter, a blueberry bush won’t start producing berries on time and the yield will be small and disappointing.
Some blueberries require 800 or more chill hours (hours below 45F), but the Sharpblue Blueberry only requires 150-250 chill hours every winter, making it a good choice for southern blueberry growers. 150 chill hours is a little over 6 days long.
Sharpblue blueberries ripen early, usually late May to early June. They’re a great choice for everyone who’s impatient to enjoy their blueberries as soon as possible.
These blueberries tend to be very dark blue in color, firm in texture, and sweet in taste.
Shaprblue blueberries are small to medium-sized berries. They’re about as big around as a dime.
The warmer zones of 7-10 are where sharpblue blueberry bushes flourish best.
Size and Spacing
Sharpblue Blueberry bushes grow to a height of up to six feet. It’s best to plant bushes four to five feet apart to allow each shrub plenty of room to grow as the mature.
The Sharpblue Blueberry is self-pollinating but will produce a better yield when planted with other highbush varieties.
Blueberry Shrub Care
In these next sections, we’ll cover the basics of caring for your Sharpblue Blueberry. For more in-depth information, visit this link to our blog post on how to grow blueberries.
Sharpblue Blueberries thrive on partial or full sun exposure.
Most blueberries do best in a slightly acidic soil environment. Sharpblue Blueberries are no exception, though they can tolerate sandier soils than most other blueberry varieties.
Sharpblue Blueberry bushes have moderate watering needs. They should be watered at least once a week, more often during periods of extreme heat.
Acidic fertilizers are the best for Sharpblue Blueberries. Choose a fertilizer marketed for azaleas as they have the same acidity needs.
For more about blueberry shrub care, check out our blueberry bush care guide.
Prune branches back by about 1/2 of their length around planting time. Most likely you won’t need to prune anymore for at least three years.
For more useful pruning tips, visit our blueberry bush pruning guide.
Algal stem blotch is one of the most challenging diseases of blueberries. It’s easy for a bush to become infected with this parasite because it can break in through any injury on a stem, leaf, or berry. Once it gets in, it replicates and spreads throughout the plant.
Soon, orange blotches will show up on the branches and the plant begin wilting. These are a sign that the algae is flourishing and stealing nutrients from the bush itself. This is a difficult disease to get rid of, so it’s best to practice sanitary handling methods while interacting with these plants.
Quarantine new plants for several weeks before planting them in your garden of healthy, established bushes. Use tools such as trowels or hand pruners on established bushes before new bushes, as the disease could easily enter through nicked roots or fresh cuts from a contaminated tool.
To learn more about blueberry bush diseases, please see our blueberry bush disease guide.
Aphids are a big pest for blueberry bushes. If your leaves start disappearing for no apparent reason, flip a remaining leaf over and take a look. Odds are you’ll see a cluster of aphids snacking away on their favorite hiding place.
The best way to get rid of aphids is to employ their arch enemy, the ladybug. Purchase a group of ladybugs (Amazon is an easy online resource to use) and release them in your garden to protect your plants from aphid damage.
Blueberry Gall Midge
The blueberry gall midge is another formidable foe. The adults resemble mosquitoes, and each adult female lays twenty eggs at a time. When the eggs hatch, the larvae make their way into the blueberry fruits themselves.
Safely hidden away inside the berries, they are unreachable by pesticides. The only way to try to manage these pests is to get the timing just right for when you spray. When the larvae emerge as adults, and it looks like there are a bunch of mosquitoes buzzing around your blueberries, you’ve got a small window to wipe them out with pesticides before they reproduce and lay more eggs.
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 Sharpblue Blueberries
Sharpblue blueberries are usually ready to harvest in late May or early June. Perfect for anxious blueberry lovers!
For more berry picking tips, check out our blueberry harvesting guide.
Common Uses For Sharpblue Blueberries
What Does This Blueberry Taste Like?
This is a small to medium-sized blueberry with a firm texture and a sweet taste.
Sharpblue blueberries are delicious additions to baked goods such as pancakes and pastries.
These berries taste great raw and are completely safe to eat. It’s best to rinse off any pesticides before eating raw berries.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
These are all acceptable methods of preserving Sharpblue blueberries.
Blueberry Jam (just three ingredients for this!)
Health Benefits of Sharpblue Blueberries
Blueberries are one of the healthiest fruits out there. They have less sugar than most other types of fruit, making them a potentially healthy snack choice for those watching their sugar intake for weight loss or diabetes.
Do you hear about antioxidants all the time and wonder what in the world they actually are? Oxidation stress is something that happens in your brain as a result of thinking in a stressful situation, and in your muscles as a result of working out. Antioxidants help combat the negative effects of oxidation stress like tiredness, difficulty thinking, poor memory, and muscle soreness. And blueberries are loaded with antioxidants!
Where to Buy Sharpblue Blueberry Plants or Seeds
Sharpblues will be easier to find in the southern states than up north. Some online retailers carry Sharpblue Blueberry plants and seeds, but you can also check with your local garden store or farmer’s market.
Where to Buy Sharpblue Blueberries
Grocery stores in your area may carry Sharpblue blueberries, but if you’re struggling to find them there, try your local farmers market — especially if you live in the southern states where this blueberry is likely to be favored by other gardeners.
Wrapping Up the Sharpblue Blueberry
All in all, the Sharpblue Blueberry is a winner for the warmer climates. It produces well on its own and even better given the chance to cross-pollinate with other highbush blueberries. It ripens early, so you don’t have to wait all summer to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Is a Sharpblue Blueberry shrub growing in your garden? Let us know about your experiences with this variety and how you use the fruit each year in our comments section below! To read about lots of other blueberries, click here for our blueberry blog posts.