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Blueberry Chill Time

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Hello all blueberry lovers out there!!  Our blueberry bushes are entering their dormant stage.  So many of us only think of blueberry bushes when there are luscious, sweet, plump blueberries just waiting to be picked.  Let’s face it….that’s what we want.  But to obtain those sweet treats during the harvest season some things must happen during the dormant stage.

During the dormant stage the blueberry bushes must have what is called “chilling hours”.  Our bushes are literally chilling out!  Chilling hours are defined as temperatures below 45 degrees but above 32.  Blueberry bushes are temperamental like that!  And to make things even more confusing, each variety has different chilling hour requirements.

For example, the Legacy variety that is everyone’s favorite, requires 400-900 hours of chill time.  Don’t you wish you had that much time to “chill out”?!  If the weather turns cold early and the bushes get all their chilling hours, when February rolls around and we have a few days of warm weather they begin coming out of their dormant stage.  Blooms begin to swell and open and we have a huge problem on our hands.  When the blooms appear early in February and March they are often killed during the next below freezing night.  Too little hours of chill time causes the blooms to open sporadically or not open at all.

Blueberry farmers watch the weather year round!  We watch the cold, pray that it doesn’t warm up too early in the spring.  We pray for rain, we pray for it not to rain, sometimes we even race the rain.  But right now we are enjoying our “chill time”!

Here is a link to the local chill time calculator from the research station located in Castle Hayne, NC! Chill Calculator

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