Once the fruits of your labor have paid off, it’s time to harvest your blueberries. There’s not much to know about picking the berries, except how often and when to do it. There are a couple small things you can do to improve the overall yield of your bushes as well as the flavor.
How often should I pick them?
How often you pick your blueberries depends on how much flavor you want and what species you’ve grown. Highbush should be picked on average of every 6 days. Rabiteye can be left to mature a little longer. Don’t worry if some start to over ripen, the ones you lose are worth the loss because the successful ones will be at their maximum flavor. Typically you can pick rabiteye every 9-10 days. This gives a good balance between lost berries and flavor.
What does a ripe blueberry look like?
What to look for when deciding to pick and harvest your blueberries is color. Gray and blue berries are ready for picking and will continue to ripen after you pick them. Red berries need to wait a bit longer before being picked because they’ve yet to mature. Softer berries are a sign that they’ve over ripened. Note: white and green berries will not ripen anymore after they’re picked like other colors.
How to pick them
Blueberries grow in bunches so it’s pretty easy to harvest them. Hold a bucket under the bunch and hold the bunch in your hand while lightly wiggling and twisting. The ripe ones should detach from the bunch rather easily while the maturing ones should remain stuck.
Blueberries are a favorite snack for many bird species. There’s one very good way to prevent birds and other critters from eating your berries and that’s to cover your plants up. A clothe tapestry or even plastic covering each bush is an easy, effective, and inexpensive method of protecting your bushes. However, you don’t want to keep this on the whole time, only put it on while they’re producing fruit.
Another proven method to increasing yield is to maintain plants. Pruning and shaping the plants from a young age will structure them to grow more fruit in the end. Yearly pruning of mature plants will also increasing the amount of berries you will get each year.