When is Blueberry Season? Plus, How to Tell When the Fruit is Ripe

Find out when blueberry season is so you can indulge in the sweet fruit at its prime.

Blueberry plants thrive in the hot days and cool nights of summer, which are the conditions they need to produce their sweet, smooth-skinned fruits that berry lovers can’t get enough of. The blueberry growing season starts in the spring with the appearance of delicate, bell-shaped blossoms that are white to pink in color. Once pollinated, those flowers develop into delicious berries over a few weeks' time. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of blueberry season, including its timing, how long it lasts, and how to tell when the fruit is truly ripe.

bush berries blueray blueberry plant
Rob Cardillo

Which season is blueberry season?

Blueberry season is when the fruit is in its prime and ready to be harvested for the freshest tasting berries with outstanding flavor. According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC), the blueberry harvest season in North America runs from April to late September. Exact timing depends on the weather conditions of where they’re grown, so the best month for blueberries in Michigan will be different than Maine or Florida.

How Long Blueberry Season Lasts

In addition to climate, when your area's blueberry season is also dependent on the variety. Here are typical blueberry harvest times for regions in the United States.

California: March–June

Northeast: Late July–September

Southeast: April–May

Midwest: Mid-July–Early September

Rocky Mountains: Mid-July–Early September

Northwest: July–September

Southwest: April–June

How to Tell When Blueberries Are Ripe

You can't go by the size of blueberry fruits to determine ripeness because that will vary depending on genetics. Generally, wild blueberry plants produce smaller fruit than the cultivated blueberry fruit seen in grocery stores and fruit stands. Not enough water when the fruit is developing also leads to smaller berries.

A more reliable way to harvest the ripest blueberries is to keep an eye on the color development. When this fast-growing fruit is ripe enough for picking, it will be blue (or sometimes pink, depending on the variety) all the way around. Then let the fruit hang for another three to four days because that’s when they’ll have the most sweetness and flavor.

The area around the stem that connects to the fruit will be the last to ripen; if this area is still green or reddish, the berry is not quite ready to be picked. As the berries ripen to a deep purple-blue to blue-black, they’ll develop a protective waxy coating known as the bloom. 

Blueberry Picking Tips

Don’t rush to pick the berries as soon as they turn color because the berry is often blue for quite a while before it’s fully ripe. Wait a few days and pick the ripe blueberries when they fall off in your hand when lightly touched. All the fruit on a blueberry plant doesn't ripen at the same time, so check the remaining blueberries on the stems every day to monitor their ripeness.

How to Get the Best Blueberry Harvest

To achieve the best fruit production, you should plant at least two different blueberry cultivars, so it can cross pollinate and produce an ongoing harvest from midsummer through fall. But if you have limited planting space, you can still get a lot of berries with only one cultivar because most blueberry plants can pollinate themselves. The exception is rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium virgatum).

It’s normal for blueberry plants to not have much fruit for the first 2 to 3 years, so don’t get discouraged about a small harvest. It generally takes about 6 years for most blueberry plants to reach full production. Blueberry plants grow slowly and will reach their full size in 8 to 10 years. To keep hungry birds away from the berries, tie some reflective streamers on to the blueberry branches.

The best way to keep your blueberry plants productive is to keep them pruned. In addition to maintaining a desirable plant size, pruning can boost fruit yields. Blueberries produce their best fruit on growth from the previous season. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should blueberries be refrigerated?

    It’s important to know how to store berries to keep them fresh. Blueberries should be refrigerated after you get them home from the grocery store or from a u-pick farm. Store unwashed berries in a single layer—such as in a short, wide storage container—to keep the fruit from getting crushed. Line the container with paper towels to absorb excess moisture, then loosely cover.

  • How do the growing conditions of blueberries differ from other berry plants?

    Blueberry plants grow best in soils that are acidic with a pH of 4.5 to 5.0. They like soil that is uniformly moist (not wet) and nutrient poor. The species evolved in swamps, wetlands, and along ponds, so it generally tolerates fluctuating soil conditions better than other plants.

  • Can you buy blueberries year round?

    It’s always summer somewhere, so getting your hands on fresh blueberries all year round is quite easy. And if you want blueberries ready at hand to make blueberry pancakes, or blueberry desserts, buy them from your grocery store’s freezer section or freeze your own.

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