Blueberry Picking Seasons in North and South America
When blueberry picking season in North America is over, usually from April to September, it doesn’t mean no more fresh berries. Imports from the South American countries of Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile take over, supplying you with fresh, plump blueberries from October to March. It’s always blueberry picking time somewhere in the world, so keep baking those blueberry pies throughout the year.
Blueberry Picking in the United States
The U.S. has so many climates, that blueberry picking season differs, depending on whether you live in the Northern, Middle or Southern states. Blueberries thrive in any of the USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7. The following list explains the blueberry picking seasons for several different states:
- Florida – End of March to end of May
- Georgia – Beginning of May through July
- California – May to the end of June
- Mississippi – End of May to the beginning of July
- Louisiana – End of May to the middle of July
- North Carolina – Middle of May to the middle of July
- Texas – June through August
- New Jersey – Middle of June to the middle of August
- Oregon – End of June to the beginning of August
- New York – Middle of July to the end of September
- Maine – End of July to the end of September
- Idaho – August through September
- Michigan – July through the end of August
How to Tell if Blueberries Are Ripe
No matter where you live, you can tell when your blueberries are ready to pick by their appearance. Each one of your blueberry bushes should give you from seven to 10 pints of juicy blueberries. The best time to pick your blueberries is about four days after they turn blue.
If you’re wondering why you should leave them on the bush for a few days after they turn blue, it’s because the berries get sweeter as they ripen on the bush. Once you pick them, they won’t get any sweeter. Your berries can stay on the bush for up to 10 days once they’re ripe.
Make sure your blueberries don’t have any green or red coloring because that indicates that they’re under ripe.
When Is the Best Time to Pick Blueberries?
The best time of day to pick your berries is in the morning after the dew has dried. If you wait until the afternoon, the sun warms the berries. The warmth increases postharvest breakdown of the blueberries, which can result in splitting, damage and decreased storage time.
How to Pick Blueberries
All you need for picking blueberries is a pail and your fingers. Since blueberry clusters ripen at different times, pick the berries once every week as the berries continue to ripen. It’s also a good idea to line your pail with a plastic bag so that you can remove the berries without damaging them. Follow these tips for picking blueberries with the least amount of fruit damage:
- Use your thumb and forefinger to pick the blueberries while cupping your other hand underneath. This way you can catch any that fall.
- Ripe berries will come off the stems very easily.
- Pick all the ripe berries from one bush before starting on the next one.
- Fill the pail with 4 to 5 inches of berries and then start with another pail. This prevents damage to the berries.
- Avoid squeezing or over handling the berries.
- After picking, move the berries to a cool location out of the sun.
- Gently dump the berries on a flat surface for sorting.
- Remove any under ripe, damaged, diseased or decayed berries.
- Cool your blueberries within four hours of harvesting because warm berries decay within 12 hours.
- Store your blueberries in a well-ventilated container in the refrigerator. The best temperature for storage is from 33°F (.55°C) to 34°F (1.1°C) for the longest shelf life.
Even if you didn’t plant any blueberry bushes in your yard, you can still enjoy blueberry picking season. Many local blueberry farms allow you to pick their fresh blueberries yourself. Your whole family can grab a bucket and spend the morning picking delicious, juicy blueberries. Bring them home and use them for pies, breads, muffins or just eat them plain. You can also freeze them for using all year long. The flavor of freshly picked blueberries is hard to beat.