Blueberries: How we test blueberries
We bought small plants of 15 varieties of blueberry in the winter of 2008 and set out the best five of each in a fruit cage at our test site in the Cotswolds.
We had set up a large tank in advance to collect rainwater, so we had enough to water the trial all year through a drip irrigation system, without having to resort to the local hard tap water. As the blueberry plants grew, we potted them into larger containers using Best Buy J Arthur Bower’s Ericaceous Compost. Each year we gave them a dose of ericaceous fertiliser, too.
In summer 2009 we picked a few blueberries from some varieties and waited with much anticipation for 2010's crop. As some of the varieties produced only a small quantity of fruit we decided to give them another year, making it one of our longest plant trials. By summer 2011 most blueberry varieties tipped the scales at more than 500g per plant and one variety with more than 1kg per plant.
Our testers picked ripe blueberries weekly and commented on the taste and size of typical fruits. They had to check and repair the netting regularly as the local blackbird population was desperate to get at the berries.
We also trialled
‘Bluecrop’, ‘Brigitta’ and ‘Patriot’ didn’t have as good a combination of yield, cropping period and taste as our Best Buys. ‘Bluegold’, ‘Elliott’, ‘Herbert’, ‘Legacy’ and ‘Sunshine Blue’ all had lower yields over the two years. ‘Duke’ was the least tasty.