Funny looking blueberries without a calyx

Asked May 21, 2019, 8:10 AM EDT

Good morning, A few weeks ago I had blueberries that had no calyxs. Is there a reason why? Thank you, Evelyn Johnson-Sylvester

Kent County Michigan blueberries calyx

1 Response

Some blueberries lose that calyx cup right after bloom and some near had them. Rabbit eye blueberries won't have the calyx like the Northern Highbush that we grow here in Michigan. They actually pick rabbit eye blueberries at about the same time as we pick in Michigan and we seldom see the fruit. So why would you get rabbit eye blueberries in the grocery store so early in the year. It is because of all the breeding of new varieties and expansion of blueberry production in the south as well as Central and South America. Rabbit eye blueberries are firmer than our northern highbush so they are used a lot in breeding. There has been so much interbreeding of the cultivated blueberry that some of the new varieties have DNA from 4 different species. They are not GMOs. This was done with conventional breeding techniques. There are 3 native wild blueberries which we eat here in North America. There is the rabbit eye down south. It grows on a very large bush. There is the low-bush which grows forest up in the UP but a commercial industry has existed in Maine and Eastern Canada for a long time. In the early 1900s the highbush was crossed with the low-bush to get the favor of the low-bush into the larger berries on a bush of the northern highbush blueberry. The highbush has been crossed with a wild relative from Florida to produce a highbush blueberry which grows well in the deep south. This is called the southern highbush and they pick it down there in April and May. The rabbit eye has been crossed with both the northern and southern highbush as well. None of the varieties with southern genes survive a Michigan winter but some of them are adapted well to southern climates. They now grow blueberries in South American and ship them up here all winter long in fact we start getting blueberries from Peru in September when we are still piking here in Michigan so that has lowered our price. We used to get a price premium as the last fresh berries on the market. Mexico starts picking blueberries in March and lowers the price of the early Florida berries which used to get a price premium as the first fresh berries. This is why you can buy cheap fresh blueberries in the grocery store every week of the year. It is also why many American blueberry growers are struggling because the prices are so low.