There’s nothing quite like the taste, smell, and feel of fresh blueberries right off the blueberry bush. Unfortunately, you’ve got to wait until the time is just right! If waiting until your blueberries are ripe enough to harvest is a challenge for you, these Snowchaser blueberries are going to rock your world. These berries are the earliest ripeners among the Southern Highbush varieties. They’re ready to go in some places by as early as March!
Read on for more details about this delicious early bird and how to grow your very own Snowchaser Blueberry shrub.
History of the Snowchaser Blueberry
The Snowchaser blueberry was created in 2005 by the University of Florida. They’ve worked to develop different varieties of blueberries that grow well in their warm climate, and the Snowchaser came from an effort to make a blueberry that ripens early in season. These berries are typically ripe and ready to sell very early in the season when the prices for berries are still high, so they’re a great money maker.
Characteristics of the Snowchaser Blueberry
Snowchaser plants are a highbush variety. They can grow up to a whopping 10 feet tall and 7 to 8 ft wide. They have medium green foliage, white flowers in the spring, and a light blue berry. The berries are medium sized and firm.
This variety of blueberries only needs 100-200 chill hours. Chill hours refer to the cumulative hours the plant needs to spend below 45°F in order to bear good fruit. 100-200 chill hours is a very low requirement. It’s actually the lowest requirement among highbush varieties!
These berries are ready very early in the season. You can bet on them being ripe enough to harvest in April, but sometimes they’re ready to go by late March.
Snowchaser blueberries are medium sized with a sweet, crisp blueberry flavor. They’re relatively firm.
You can expect an average of 5-5.5 lbs of medium, firm berries from each plant every year. That means you can sell, give away, can, eat, freeze, bake, and gift a whole lot of blueberries every single year!
Because they require so little chill time, these plants grow best in zones 6-9.
Size and Spacing
You need to have a considerable section of your yard or garden set aside for these Snowchaser blueberry plants! These plants can grow to be up to 10 ft tall and 7-8ft wide. When planting the small bushes, make sure to keep them at least 4-5 ft apart to allow for that growth.
Snowchaser blueberry bushes require cross pollination. That means they need to be planted near other kinds of blueberry bushes in order for pollinators to spread the pollen to make the best, largest fruit. Springhigh and Venture are some good options for pollination companions to your Snowchaser bushes.
Blueberry Shrub Care
In this next section, we’ll go over the basics of the care your blueberry shrubs will need. For a more in-depth and detailed read, click the link to our guide, How To Grow Blueberries.
Snowchaser blueberry bushes like full sunlight. If full sunlight is unavailable, they can do alright in partial shade.
Starting your plants up from the beginning with the right kind of soil is going to set you up with the healthiest, best fruit-producing bushes for years to come. After digging your holes an appropriate distance apart, fill them with a soil mixture that’s 90% sphagnum peat moss and 10% pearlite. Put your bushes in the hole and then fill it with the same soil mixture. This variety of blueberries liked very acidic soil, with a pH of of 4.5 or lower. You can test your soil with a simple garden center soil test kit and then adjust accordingly.
Snowchaser blueberry bushes like consistently moist soil that drains well. Don’t allow the soil to get completely dry between watering.
Fertilize these bushes with fruit or vegetable fertilizer once every three months from late fall, all the way through mid summer.
You need to prune Snowchaser blueberry bushes every year, starting at the very beginning. While they’re getting established (somewhere between 3-4 years normally), prune plants heavily. Remove a relatively large portion of their growth from that year so that they continue to grow well. Good pruning will result in an increase of fruit bearing branches during establishing years and then a plant that will bear a high yield of good fruit. If you don’t prune, the bushes will put too much effort into growing new branches instead of putting the energy into making the best, most delicious fruit possible. Prune your bushes each winter while they’re dormant and before buds break.
For more information or for any pruning questions, read our guide, How to Prune Blueberries.
This variety of blueberry bush is prone to stem blight. If you see a branch turn brown or reddish and start to wilt suddenly, you need to take care of it immediately. To treat, cut off any infected area you notice a good 6-8 inches below any visual sign of infection. Then destroy them. No sort of fungicide will help with stem blight. You’ve just got to cut it out completely.
Our guide, 10 Blueberry Bush Diseases and How To Treat Them, will provide even more information about identifying, treating, and preventing the most common blueberry bush diseases.
Snowchaser Blueberries thankfully don’t suffer from pest problems!
When to Harvest Snowchaser Blueberries
As mentioned earlier, these blueberries are the earliest ripeners out there! They’re ready to pick by April. You’ll know they’re ready when they’re deep blue with a dusting of gray on the surface and plump. If there’s a hint of red or it’s firm, it isn’t fully ripened and will probably be tart.
To be sure that you know just when to pick your blueberries, read our blog post, When Is the Right Time To Pick Blueberries?
Common Uses For Snowchaser Blueberries
These berries are a wonderful choice to eat fresh, or they can be used in any recipe that calls for frozen or fresh berries!
What Does This Blueberry Taste Like?
The Snowchaser blueberry has been described as “sweet, crisp blueberry flavor.”
There are almost countless things you could cook with these delicious berries! They’d be great in pies, muffins, or maybe a blueberry jam or jelly.
Snowchaser blueberries are delicious to eat fresh. If you’re looking to change it up, try adding them to your yogurt with a handful of granola and drizzle of honey for a sweet, homemade yogurt parfait.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
If you can’t eat or share all of the blueberries your healthy Snowchaser plants are producing, canning, freezing, and drying are all great options. Here is a great article for canning blueberry syrup. Think of the pancakes you could enjoy for the whole year! To freeze them, just spread them out on a baking sheet and put them in for a few hours to flash freeze. Then move them to a freezer-safe bag to store. Those are great to use in your morning smoothies. Drying is a great option, too. They make great snacks, or you could rehydrate them to use in recipes.
Health Benefits of Snowchaser Blueberries
Snowchaser blueberries are a great source of vitamin C. They also have a high content of anthocyanins, which are something that counteract plaque buildup. A study showed that when women ate 3 servings of strawberries to blueberries a week, their risk for heart disease was reduced! There’s even research saying they may help prevent prostate cancer.
Where to Buy Snowchaser Blueberry Plants
You can always check your local nurseries for these plants, especially if you live in the south. If you can’t find them locally, you can buy them online here. Your 1 year-old Snowchaser blueberry bush will be delivered in a 1 gallon pot and should be between 8-12 inches tall already!
Where to Buy Snowchaser Blueberries
Local farmers markets are a great place to start looking for Snowchaser blueberries, especially if you have one in the spring!
Wrapping Up the Snowchaser Blueberry
I hope by now you feel confident in your ability to grow a Snowchaser Blueberry plant! If you live in the south, this would be a fantastic option to add to your garden, along with a couple of other blueberry bush varieties to cross pollinate. The best part is that instead of waiting until the summer, since these chase the snow, you’re going to get to enjoy garden-fresh, crisp, sweet blueberries in Spring!
Let us know in the comments if you have any experience with the Snowchaser Blueberry! What did you find most interesting in this post? We love hearing from you! For more information about blueberries, click here for our other blueberry-related blog posts.