Blueberries in Australia
Blueberries are a native fruit of North America. The species comes under the genus Vaccinium which includes around 450 evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Three varieties of blueberry species have been identified; Highbush, Lowbush (wild) and Rabbiteye. Highbush varieties can be broken down into either Southern Highbush or Northern Highbush. Lowbush blueberries are not generally found in Australia.
Numerous cultivars have been breed from these varieties such as Misty (Southern Highbush), Denise (Northern Highbush) and Powder Blue (Rabbiteye). These cultivars all have different characteristics, growing requirements and seasonal timing.
Blueberries were first introduced into Australia in the early 1970s. By 1978 it was recognised that the warmer climate Southern Highbush and Rabbiteye varieties (originally grown in the southern states of America) would grow on the NSW North Coast and produce high value, early season fruit. These varieties are harvested from June to February.
In southern Australia, most of the blueberry production is based in Victoria (mainly in the Yarra Valley) and in Tasmania. The season starts in December and ends in April. As new varieties are released, a consistent supply of blueberries will be available throughout the season.