NC State breeders have developed
more than 40 blueberry varieties
since the program was started in the 1940s.
Berries, like these at Lewis Nursery and Farms, are
hard and green before maturing into a ripe blue fruit.
Whether meteorites pushed away the topsoil, as farmers
tell, or some other divine design, the soil is the reason blue-berry
farming is thriving.
“The soil is a high organic, low pH-type soil; it’s an acidic
soil that is really only down here in southeastern North
Carolina,” Moore says. “The White Lake area is big in
blueberries, then you have Ivanhoe area, and into Pender
County near the Burgaw-Rocky Point area.”
There are dozens of varieties of blueberries that bear fruit
at different times.
“Each variety has a harvest season of about three weeks
here in North Carolina,” says Cal Lewis of Lewis Nursery
and Farms in Rocky Point. “In cooler climates that may
last a bit longer, but to fill a full season we have to have
multiple varieties. We call them early, mid, and late varieties.
Each one has its own characteristics, growing habitat and
Popular varieties include O’Neal, Star, Duke, New
Hanover, and Lewis’s favorite, Legacy.
“Legacy is one of the most dominant varieties here, but it
is not early. It comes in late May and lasts to about mid to
late June,” he says.
Lewis grows a variety of berries and plants. About 400
acres of his land is planted in blueberries.
Farmers work in conjunction with N.C. State’s blueberry
breeding program, paying an assessment to receive an allo-cation
when new varieties are released. N.C. State breeders
have developed more than 40 blueberry varieties since the
program was started in the 1940s. Commercial farmers also
use varieties developed in Florida and Georgia.