Berry Newsletters Highbush Blueberries – Countdown to Centennial


The Berry Latest 
Newsletter Issue: Jan-Feb 2015

US Highbush Blueberry Council E-newsletter



Elizabeth White’s Dream!

Elizabeth Coleman White was a lady farmer in the Pinelands of New Jersey in the early 1900s.  Her father was a US Cavalry Officer at nearby Ft. Dix.   Her business was cranberries in the natural water-rich bogs around Whitesbog in South Central New Jersey.  These were times when it was quite unusual for a woman to run a farm independently.   This was a large operation and she employed a large-scale work force which as extraordinary for that day as well.   Visit Whitesbog today and you can walk down the path of blueberry history.   First you see the original house of Elizabeth White.   As you walk south towards the bogs where Elizabeth trod each day you will see the same woods teeming with wild highbush blueberry plants.   Each day, Elizabeth imagined that this could be a commercial crop if it could be farmed as other crops rather than gathered.   Her collaboration with Frederik Coville began and soon they tested the wild highbush blueberry in commercial farming conditions.   They looked at soils plant cultivars and many of the other factors which influence the health of the blueberry plant.   (I have a copy of an original National Geographic Magazine from 1912 which discussed the early experiments). Elizabeth paid a bounty to hunters in the region who brought back highbush plants from the forest with desirable traits.   That means, large berries with firm skins and sweet flavor–the same traits that we look for today.  

It took several years, but Elizabeth and Frederick succeeded.    The commercial crop was a big hit in the nearby cites like Newark, New York and Philadelphia and Trenton.   Today Elizabeth’s legacy is the development of our highbush blueberry industry in 32 states, two provinces of Canada and around the world.

Take a visit to Whitesbog this year and celebrate the Centennial   Thanks to our matriarch, we are a billion lb producing industry and we are just getting started.

Thank you Miss White and Mr. Coville!


Highbush Blueberries!

Now, back to the question.  

In North America there are three main commercial varieties of blueberries:

1. Vaccinium corymbosum or Northern Highbush Blueberries.  They are sometimes referred to as the “cultivated blueberry.”  They are from the wild and thanks to our blueberry duo of Coville and White — the big beautiful blueberries are farmed and available from North and South Hemispheres.

2. Vaccinium ashei.  This is the southern blueberry from the wilds of Georgia, Florida, Alabama and other states.   They have a distinctive calyx which resembles the eye of the rabbit, hence it is often called a “rabbiteye” blueberry.  This blueberry can be grown in warmer climates and has some very desirable characteristics that are appreciated by blueberry connoisseurs.

3. Vaccinium angustifolium.  this is the lowbush blueberry which is grown in the bogs of the northeast including Maine, and Quebec and other eastern Provinces. This blueberry is commercially referred to as the “wild” blueberry and is normally small compared to the highbush.

Our philosophy: All blueberries are great!!!





Want to know the most commonly asked question I have received in my 25 years blueberry-guy service?

Answer: What is a highbush blueberry!  Highbush blueberries (vaccinium Corymbosum and Vaccinium Ashei are two of the very few Native American fruits.   The”First Nations” were very familiar with the wild blueberries growing in the woods.   In 1912 (or therabouts) Elizabeth White, A lady farmer in New Jersey teamed up with a USDA Researcher named Frederick Coville to cultivate the wild highbush blueberry.   The collaboration at Whitesbog in New Jersey resulted in the first highbush/cultivated blueberry crop going to maket in 1916!  Now we are counting down till the Centennial and celebrating the highb


– Tom Payne
USHBC Food  Industry Consultant




A visit Whitesbog is a nice day trip from New York City or Philadelphia.  

With the Centennial coming up, blueberry fans from around the world are planning trips to the “Garden State” in 2016!


Blueberries in the wild:

throughout the world there are hundreds of species of Vacinnium which are part of the blueberry family.   In Europe the wild blueberry is called Vaccinium myrtillus or “billberry”

In the far north regions, there are many wild mountain blueberries inclujding Vaccinium uliginosum.   

There is even a species of blueberries Vaccinium reticulatumwhich is red and grows wild on the slopes of Mauna Kea in Hawaii!


Happy Birthday Highbush Blueberries!   

The above post card was produced by Padilla CRT, which is the ad agency of the US Highbush Blueberry Council,   The fruit box label says it all:

B = Shows the Native American/First Nation’s heritage of the blueberry.  Let us remember that the early North Americans were well familiar of he health benefits of this magical “star fruit.”  They dried the blueberries, and prescribed consumption for health and well being.   

L = Shows the collaboration of Elizabeth White and Frederick Coville.     Many had tried to cultivate the forest berry in the past and together they cracked the code.  Ironically — the original plot for Coville’s lab is on the site of the present day US Armed Forces Pentagon!   The collaboration of the US blueberry growers and the USDA remains strong today and is the foundation of the USHBC which is a USDA Federal Research and Promotion Order

U = Shows the first commercial crop .  It was a big development for  agriculture in the USA and some of the descendents with ties to Elizabeth’s True Blue Coop are still in the business.  

E = Shows the scale up of the blueberry business which went from hand picked local businesses to mechanical harvesting and processing and further processing such as freezing and dehydration.

B = Shows the discovery and appreciation of the health benefits of blueberries which launched the industry in the 1980s.   The USHBC came along in 2000 and has been validating these benefits and discovering new!  

E = Shows the great leap forward of North American production at the turn of the century (2000).   We have quadrupled production in just two decades to keep up with demand and the future looks bright.

R = Shows the “Little Blue Dynamos” positioning that was developed by USHBC to distill all that is good about bluberries!

R = Shows the boom in foodservice and food processing use of blueberries including frozen, dried, liquid and others.   More than a thousand new blueberry containing products are developed in the USA each year!

I = Is a salute to our new customers.  Blueberry per-capita consumption has doubled in recent years and this includes use by more and more new customers — especially the young who are discovering blueberries.

E = Salutes innovation of blueberry use in more and more ways.   Today, smoothies are hot, and each year more and more new categories for blueberry use succeed including pet foods, natural cosmetics and who knows what next!

S = Shows blueberry use in foreign markets.   US blueberries are shipped in all forms to more than 75 countries abroad.   Last year more than 77 million lbs!  

Elizabeth would be proud!



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Published by the US Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC)

Published by – USHBC- c/o Thomas J. Payne, 865 Woodside Way, San Mateo, CA 94401 Copyright © 2015

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