By James Wall.
Yes, it was back up the hills on our annual sojourn, to pick up some blueberry plants. This year we are picking up only 101 advanced Brigitta’s in 30cm pots. They would fill the bottom of the truck and some of them are about waist height, so stacking them on trolleys was not an option.
Moondarra Blueberries are about an hour out of Moe, towards them hills. (It’s not open to the public). It’s a windy road that works its way through farmland and forest. Once at the turnoff, its a few kilometres of classic country track, winding through 100 year old gums and working its way up some steep hills.
Once at the packing shed at the top of the hill, it was obvious the wind was a howler. These plants are sure gonna be toughened up. After loading the truck, it was time to go and checkout some Brigitta’s growing in the field. When we got down there, the crop was amazingly completely protected from the wind by the side of the hill. The sun came out and the jumpers almost came off. These monster plants were 2 metres high and over 35 years old. The industry average harvest per plant might be 4kg, but these giants manage to have 10kg picked off them.
After a lesson in pruning, I have come to the conclusion it still is an art form that I haven’t totally mastered. Remove old unproductive wood, and snap off weak skinny short wood with your fingers. Don’t be afraid to bend wood and tie wood down with Jolly Ties, so pickers can reach them. Promote new red stems and consider removing the odd grey stem. It’s certainly not an exact science. Shhh, a little secret – they love their Felco secateurs and have a few different pruning saws, but the Felco is always the first to go from the shed.
So the plants are now back in our nursery in Melbourne and these 3 year old advanced plants in 30cm pots are going out at $39.95. Each plant has flower buds on them and each bud will have 5 0r 6 fruit this coming season so you can have a taste test. You will love the flavour of these girls – all in all yummy garden produce. Remember to let them fully ripe for best flavour – bird netting recommended.
Growers Notes: Brigitta is a tall, vigorous upright bush to 2, with high production. Very large, medium blue, firm fruit with good flavour. Excellent picking scar and keeping quality. This Australian developed variety Brigitta is now being widely grown world wide. Clusters can be tight and the bloom damaged easily. Ripens two weeks after Bluecrop with similar size berries. Fruit can drop easily so care when hand harvesting is required. One of the best keeping and shipping varieties available. A favourite with exporters. For pollination purposes it is best if planted near another variety.