Blueberry

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Scientific Name: Vaccinium myrtillus L., blaeberry, whortleberry, whinberry, myrtle

Family: Ericaceae

Species: Vaccinium

Common Name: Blueberry

General Description

The Blueberry is distinguished for its tasty fruits. They contain large amounts of nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals etc. The blueberries have a very characteristic blue color and can be consumed fresh, frozen or as a processed product. The cultivated land of blueberry is increased. Alongside, the consumption of the processed products is also steadily increasing. Blueberry has huge, global, commercial importance because of its high quality and its beneficial features.

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Health Benefits

Improves the health of heart.

Reduces therisk of cancer

Fights urine infections.

Improves the health of brain.

Contains high levels of Vitamin C.

Fights bad cholesterol.

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Morphology

Blueberry is a perennial, deciduous shrub with woody stem. Its height can reach up to 2.5 meters. It can withstand long spells of sunshine and also the partial shading. It has been observed that the more obscured is the cultivation,the fewer flowers are developed and therefore the production is reduced. Blueberry can be grown in great variety of climate conditions. The plant is very resistant to cold, can survive in temperatures – 25 οC or lower. The ideal types of terrains for cultivation are light sandy or gritty soil that is rich in organic matter and well-drained. The ideal pH value is 4.8 to 5.2. In some soil types, because their pH is relatively high, a process of reduction their pH is required before planting the seedlings. In blueberry’s cultivation organic soil improvers are added, such as zeolite and mycorrhiza.

Blueberry’s economic importance in the International Market

The fruit is imported and marketed either as fresh or as frozen in the European market mostly from the countries of Latin America. Nowadays the bluberry jam, a product which has been rewarded for its taste, is known worldwide. Blueberry is also available in the market as dried fruit and its dried leaves can be used for beverages. It’s the “secret” of the famous wine «PORTO» and most famous jams on the market. Blueberry is produced in large quantities in the USA, Canada, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine and now in Greece in lower percentages.

Cultivation Techniques

The ideal season for cultivation is in the autumn or early spring. The proper cultivation techniques are:
1) Plowing and incorporating organic fertilizers of acid reaction , and adding soil improvement products if it’s required ( eg zeolite , mycorrhizae , peat , etc. ).
2) Carving lines of planting and planting labeling positions on the lines. The appropriate planting distances between Blueberry plants on lines are 2.5 to 3.0 meters. Special attention should be given because air dries the blueberry’s roots.
3) It is allowed to use small amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Application of biological preparations is allowed in order for the plants to be protected and for the roots to grow better.

According to researches:
• The blueberry is a plant that has specific water needs. Firstly, it can’t resist drought and it is difficult to grow when there is much water in their soil. The optimal watering is achieved by continuous monitoring and measurement of soil moisture.
• Each variety has a different resistance to natural enemies, therefore the selection of suitable varieties is of great importance.
• It requires careful weeding around the plant’s root. The use of mechanical tools for plowing should be done with caution and away from the surface root system, since the destruction leads to wilting of the plant.
• Preventive measures, compatible with organic agriculture should be taken.
• The fruit can be harvested by hand or mechanically in 12-week time, depending on the varieties.
• Winter pruning is required in the first 3 years of planting. The plant is usually formed into a cup-shaped or cylindrical shape.
It is very important to add brown soil every 2 years in blueberry’s cultivation.

Harvest

The plants which are grown in 1 to 1.5 year , produce fruits of better quality. The fruit can be harvested manually or mechanically. The fruit can be processed in many sub-products. The cultivation’s duration is 30 years. The number of plants is 30 per acre, the production is 1.000 – 1.200 kg. The quantity which can be manually harvested is 5 kg per hour. The duration of plant’s fruit growth is 3 to 6 weeks.

Uses-Products

Blueberry is used in pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industry. It is mostly used in confectionary, in yogurts,in concentrated juices and essential oils. Its demand is increased due to its therapeutic benefits. Recent studies have shown the antitumor activity of some of the blueberry’s substances. Blueberry can help to prevent oral cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate. It is rich in antioxidants, which have anti-aging effects and improves health of the eyes. Blueberry beverages ( from leaves and fruits) have been used to treat diarrhea , indigestion and nausea. It is also suitable for the treatment of cystitis caused by Escherichia Coli in the urinary system, especially in the early stages of infection. The leaves are also used against diabetes. In France the Blueberry fruit is used as the main ingredient for drinks and as a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts. The British use Blueberry as tart (tarte aux myrtilles) which is their traditional dessert.