Blueberry Duke - frost-resistant variety of early ripening

Blue grapes, as the people call blueberries, is famous not only for its dessert taste. Its sweet berries are a real elixir of youth, they inhibit the aging process and rejuvenate the body. The Americans say: "If you grow blueberries, you will never die." This berry culture is still a rare guest in our gardens, however, interest in it increases every year. For most regions of our country, varieties with high frost resistance, such as Duke blueberries, are most suitable.

Growing history

At the dawn of the XX century, American breeders began to engage in the cultivation of shield blueberries and southern blueberries. Then the first industrial varieties were obtained. By the beginning of the 80s, 45 names of tall blueberries, 11 varieties of the "rabbit eye" type and 3 low-growing varieties (now there are more than 130) have already been entered in the register.

In nature, forest blueberries begin to bear fruit quite late - it takes at least 15 years for the first berries to appear. Garden species yield crops already in the second year of planting.

Blueberry Duke refers to tall forms. Bred in the USA in 1972 as a result of crossbreeding of Ivanhoe and Airlie Blue (Early Blue) varieties, approved for commercial cultivation in 1987.

Blueberry varieties Duke is characterized by early ripeness and friendly ripening of fruits

Blueberries have many popular names: titmouse, pigeon, gonobel, drunkard. The berry is very useful, does not cause allergic reactions, therefore it is recommended to include it in the children's menu.

Grade description

Duke - a variety of blueberries, worthy of attention, it is a real decoration of the garden. In spring, during flowering, the plant is covered with soft pink inflorescences resembling bells, which look very impressive against the background of bright foliage. In the summer, green branches are decorated with large bluish berries, and in the autumn they show off in a crimson decoration.

Blueberry Duke not only gives a stable harvest of berries, but also is a decoration of a personal plot

The bush is tall (1.2–1.8 m), wide, uplifted, with straight strong shoots. It grows quickly, forms a little overgrowth. The leaves are large, elliptical, smooth, shiny, adjacent, on short petioles, in spring and summer - bright green, in autumn the foliage becomes scarlet. It blooms in May, does not require additional varieties for pollination.

Fruits of regular round shape, large, with a diameter of 17–20 mm, weighing 185–192 g. The skin is light blue with a touch, the flesh is dense, greenish. The taste of the fruit is tartly sweet with a sour finish. Berries tolerate transportation well.

Blueberry Duke is a tall shrub with powerful straight shoots

Distinctive characteristics of the variety:

  • Blueberry Duke is frost-resistant: the critical temperature for a plant is minus 34 degrees. Due to its resistance to temperature stresses, Duke is not damaged by frost and therefore gives stable yields.
  • Duke is the record holder for ripening dates: the period from mass flowering to harvesting is 42–56 days. Already in the second decade of July, the berries gathered in the brush ripen on the tops of the branches.
  • The variety is fruitful - from one bush you can collect 6-8 kg of berries, the charges are friendly, not stretched.

    During fruiting, the whole bush is covered with berries - from it you can collect 6-8 kg of crop

Blueberries are stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Since berries quickly absorb extraneous odors, they must be stored in closed containers. It is most useful to eat fresh blueberries. You can also freeze, dry, make preparations for the winter - juice, jam, jam, compote, wine.

Video: early varieties of blueberries

Landing Features

Blueberries are quite unpretentious, but it is very important to choose the right place and plant. For good growth and fruiting of bushes, an acid, loose and moist substrate is required.

Site selection

For tall blueberries, Duke most preferred areas are well-lit and warmed by the sun. The plant is reconciled with light penumbra, but with insufficient light the berries will be less sweet. Blueberries will grow in the shade, but they will not bear fruit, because a crop needs a sufficient amount of light to form a crop.

To protect the bushes from the cold northerly winds, it is advisable to place them along the fence or hedge.

Important. Blueberries do not like their predecessors, they are not particularly recommended to grow it on the site of vegetable plantings. Under berry shrubs, it is better to devote areas where perennial grasses grew in the past and organic matter was not used.

Light (sandy and sandy) and acidic (peat) soils are suitable for this culture. The root system of blueberries is in the surface layer at a depth of 15–20 cm, so it is advisable to choose a place with the passage of groundwater at a distance of 60 cm from the surface of the earth. Too close water can be detrimental to plants.

Blueberries grow best on light sandy and peaty soil without stagnation of moisture

The main condition for the successful development of the plant is the high acidity of the soil, pH 4 - 5.5. Acid peat (1 bucket / m2) or sulfur (50 g / m2) must be added to neutral or slightly acidic soil.

Indicator plants will help determine the acidity of the soil. Sour soils like sorrel, horsetail, buttercup, euphorbia, mint.

Selection of seedlings

Tall blueberries are planted with 2-3-year-old seedlings. It is worth acquiring them only in garden centers or nurseries, where strict control is carried out and you can get qualified recommendations for growing crops. There are usually seedlings sold in containers. They do not recommend purchasing plants with an open root system - there is a high risk that they will not take root.

Two-year-old seedlings with a developed root system take root well

Before buying, carefully inspect the seedlings. They must meet the following requirements:

  • Branches are flexible and not dried.
  • There are no dark spots on the bark and leaves. Their presence indicates diseases.
  • The earthen lump should be whole and braided by the thinnest roots.

    When removing from the container, the earthen lump must maintain integrity

Video: how to choose blueberry seedlings

Landing time

Blueberries are planted in autumn and spring. In central Russia, a spring landing is preferable. Plants planted at the beginning of the season will have time to take root well until the end of spring, when the roots of blueberries stop growing. During autumn planting, the bush may not have time to take root and die, because at the end of the season, root growth resumes only during the period from harvesting to the beginning of leaf fall. In the south, you can plant blueberries in the fall, 2-3 weeks before the onset of cold weather.

How to plant blueberries

Young plants are planted in two ways:

  • Bush. For blueberries, pits are made with a diameter of 80 cm and a depth of 40 cm, at a distance of 1.5 m from each other.
  • Trench. If there are a lot of seedlings, especially on large plantations, it is better to plant them in trenches 50 cm wide and 40 cm deep, leaving 2-3 m between rows. Rows should be arranged from north to south.

In large areas, blueberries are planted in trenches, keeping enough space between the rows (2-3 m)

As a mulching material, peat and needles are used, which not only prevent the evaporation of moisture and weed growth, but also increase the level of soil acidity.

Step-by-step landing instructions

  1. Pour peat or a fertile layer of land (50%) mixed with coniferous litter (40%) and pine bark or sawdust (10%) to the bottom of the pit or trench.

    Peat is poured into the pit for planting blueberries, and pine bark or sawdust is placed on top

  2. Spill the ground with acidified water. Any acid is suitable: citric, oxalic (1 tsp. / 10 l / 1 m2), 9% acetic or malic (100 g / 10 l / m2).
  3. Before planting, it is recommended to leave the plants for 2 hours in a solution that stimulates root formation (Kornevin, Heteroauxin).
  4. Divide the lower part of the root into 4-6 parts and spread it in different directions.
  5. Lower the seedling into the hole, cover it with earth, deepening the root neck by 3-5 cm.

    Blueberry seedlings are lowered into the pit so that the root neck is 5 cm deep

  6. Water the soil abundantly, let it soak in and lay on top a mulch layer 10 cm thick.
  7. When spring planting, you need to shorten the bush by 1/4 for better bushiness.

Important! Substances acidifying the soil are applied in advance, and not before planting. In the future, sulfur is added to the soil for acidification at the end of the season, and needles are poured on top.

Video: planting blueberries

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Caring for Duke Blueberries

Berry bushes abundantly bear fruit for many seasons, if you create comfortable conditions for them - provide enough water, fertilizers, carry out timely pruning and preparation for wintering. Further we will consider in more detail what blueberries need for good growth and fruiting.

Regular watering is the key to a good harvest.

Blueberry Duke is a moisture-loving culture, its health and crop quality largely depend on watering. Water the bush 2 times a week, the rate of water consumption is 10 liters per plant. During budding and fruit formation, watering is increased. However, it should be remembered that waterlogging is detrimental to the plant - moisture, stagnating in the soil, can cause the development of infections and rot.

There are several ways to water blueberries:

  • In small areas, water is applied under the bush using a watering can or sprinkling. Imitation of rain using a spray hose allows you to moisten not only the soil, but also the foliage, which is especially important in severe drought. Only such watering should be done early in the morning or in the evening, after sunset, so that moisture droplets do not cause burns to the leaves.

    In hot summers, it is useful to arrange showers of blueberry bushes, and it is advisable to do this in the evenings or early in the morning

  • On large areas, it is better to use drip irrigation: watering tapes with droppers are laid along the rows through which water is evenly delivered directly to the roots of plants.
  • Before the onset of frost, water-loading irrigation is mandatory.

What fertilizers are needed for blueberries

Unlike other berry crops, blueberries should not be fed with organic matter (manure, compost, chicken droppings). This promotes alkalization of the soil, and the plant may die.

It's important to know! The lack of trace elements immediately affects the appearance of the bush. With nitrogen deficiency, the leaves turn yellow, plant growth slows down, and productivity decreases. Lack of phosphorus leads to reddening of foliage, potassium - blackening of the tops and their death. A decrease in sulfur level causes a change in the color of the leaves - they become yellowish-white.

Yellow leaves indicate a lack of calcium or iron

During the first season after planting, blueberries do not require top dressing. In the future, to increase fertility, mineral fertilizers are used:

  • At the beginning of the growing season and before flowering, ammonium nitrate (30 g / m2) or ammonium sulfate (40 g / m2) is added.
  • In early spring and during the formation of fruits, blueberries are fed with superphosphate (100 g), which is necessary to increase the viability of plants and improve fruiting.
  • Potassium salt (30 g / m2) helps plants more successfully resist drought and frost, diseases and pests.

It is possible to increase the yield and increase the immunity of plants with the help of complex fertilizers containing all the necessary trace elements. For blueberries, you can use, for example, Bon Forte (50 g / m2) - a granular mineral fertilizer enriched with zeolite, which has unique properties. It retains moisture and nutrients in the root zone of plants, reduces stress during planting and transplantation, and ensures optimal air regime.

Bona Forte Mineral Fertilizer Contains All Essential Blueberry Nutrients

All types of fertilizers are scattered around the perimeter of the crown and embedded in the soil or dissolved in water and carry out liquid top dressing.

Bush formation

Blueberry fruits are usually tied not on the central but on the side shoots, flower buds are formed on biennial growths. Pruning plants is carried out taking into account these features.

The first 3 years, Duke blueberries grow quite slowly, so at first they only shorten strong annual growths. When the plant turns into a sprawling shrub, formative pruning can be performed.

  1. In early spring, in the phase of the green cone, blind growth is removed (shoots that do not give flower buds), as well as branches that thicken the bush and lower drooping branches.

    Pruning of blueberry bushes is carried out in early spring, before buds open.

  2. Of the large annual shoots, 5 of the strongest and most healthy are left, the rest are removed. Such pruning contributes to the formation of an erect, slightly spreading bush, which is well ventilated and evenly illuminated by the sun.

In bushes older than 8 years, giving a weak growth and small berries, anti-aging pruning is performed. At the same time, up to 20% of old branches are completely cut, stimulating the development of new shoots. However, it should be borne in mind that overly pruning leads to a decrease in the number of fruits.

A properly formed bush of blueberries is well ventilated and evenly lit by the sun, which helps to increase productivity

Experienced gardeners must remove buds from seedlings per year of planting. This contributes to the proper development of the plant.

Video: anti-aging pruning of tall blueberries

Winter preparations

Duke is a frost-resistant variety that tolerates even severe frosts (up to -34 ° C). However, in snowy winters, bushes can freeze, especially in the first year of planting. Therefore, it is better to take care of plant protection in advance. Shelter is as follows:

  1. Before the onset of cold weather, the basal zone in a radius of 0.5 m is mulched with peat and needles.
  2. Near the bushes, wire arches are installed, to which the branches are bent and fixed with twine.
  3. On the eve of frost, they cover the shrub with burlap or agrofiber, spruce branches are placed on top (to protect against hares who like to peel blueberry bark).

    Before the onset of frost, it is better to cover the blueberry bushes with agrofibre - so they better winter

With the onset of spring, insulation is removed, the frozen tips of the branches are cut.

Reproduction of blueberries Duke

Propagate blueberries with cuttings, layering, seeds. The seed method is rather laborious, the bushes obtained in this way will please the harvest only after 7–9 years.

Most often use reproduction using cuttings or layering. Cuttings are carried out in several stages:

  1. Cut lignified shoots in autumn are placed in a cool place.
  2. In April, they are divided into parts 20 cm long, planted at an angle of 45 degrees in a mixture of peat and sand, watered and covered with a film.
  3. The greenhouse is regularly ventilated, moisten the soil once a week.
  4. In August, the film is removed so that the rooted cuttings undergo hardening.
  5. In the fall, they are transplanted into a separate bed for growing.
  6. After 2 years, seedlings are planted in a permanent place.

The most common way to propagate blueberries is through cuttings

When propagating by layering, they shoot a shoot into a depression under the bush, having previously introduced into the soil a mixture of peat, sawdust and sand. The branches are fixed with brackets and covered with a film. Layers are separated from the bush in the spring of next year, sometimes later, as rooting takes quite a long time.

Blueberry layering is fixed with braces, and then covered with a film

Disease prevention

Duke's healthy blueberry plants rarely get sick if agricultural practices are followed. However, under adverse conditions, the bushes can be affected by diseases.

Table: Blueberry Disease

Name of the diseaseSymptomsPreventative measuresTreatment
AnthracnoseNecrotic spots appear on the leaves and stems, the fruits are wrinkled. The occurrence of the disease contribute to long periods of rain.Remove fallen leaves.In spring, spray with Nitrafen (300 g \ 10 l).
Gray rotOutgrowths of gray color form on the shoots, the fruits begin to rot.
  1. Trim.
  2. Do not overfeed with nitrogen.
  1. In the green cone phase, sprinkle the tree and soil with 3% iron sulfate.
  2. After flowering, treat with 1% Bordeaux liquid.
Black cancerOn the young branches red-brown spots appear, the bark cracks. First shoots die off, and then the whole plant.
  1. Use healthy planting material.
  2. Avoid bush thickening.
  1. Sprinkle on a green cone with Azophos (80 ml / 10 L).
  2. To process after flowering Skor, KE (2 ml / 10 l).

Photo gallery: signs of disease on a blueberry bush

The greatest risk of anthracnose infection occurs when the bush is thickened.

Gray rot on blueberries spreads with high humidity

Black cancer is a dangerous disease that can kill a bush of blueberries

Timely preventive measures will also prevent the appearance of pests.

Table: Pests and Pest Control

LeafletCaterpillars damaging flowers and berries can destroy up to 50% of the crop.Gently loosen the soil in the autumn to destroy the pupae.
  1. Before flowering, process 0.05% Kinmiks, 0.1% Spark.
  2. After flowering, sprinkle with 0.02% Actellik, 0.2% Fufanon, Terselom (25 g / 10 l).
ChaferThe insect eats leaves, the larvae damage the roots of plants.Shake off bugs, catch using light traps.Treat the soil with Anti-Crush in spring (10 ml / 5 L).
AphidThe pest sucks the plant juices, depletes them, which leads to a decrease in productivity.Ants are spread over the aphid area, therefore, first of all, treatment against these insects with Anteater, Cypermetrin should be carried out.
  1. Branches, aphids, trimmed.
  2. Sprinkle the bush before and after flowering with Actara (2 g / 10 L), Actellic (2 ml / 2 L).

Photo Gallery: Blueberry Pests

Butterfly caterpillars can destroy up to 50% of the crop

Chafer beetle brings great harm to blueberry bushes, especially young

Aphids, eating plant sap, deplete them, resulting in reduced yield

Reviews about the variety Duke

I have three varieties bought three years ago: Duke, Blue-crop and Patriot. This year, only Duke insinuated, and not like in the previous photo. The whole bush, about 80 cm, was literally showered with large fruits. The taste is sweet-sour, blueberries are far superior in taste. But the Blue-crop is significantly behind in growth. For some reason, the advertisements said that it was necessary for pollination of 2-3 varieties, and Duke bloomed one of three, and there were a lot of berries. It grows in a sunny place, there was no care, only it was mulched by an ugly man.

Akim Romanov

I have blueberries about 10 years old, Duke and Bluecrop. But my soil is acidic in nature - sandy almost black soil (for many years manure was introduced). The berry is very tasty. It’s not freezing here, so I’m never harboring it. Harvest depends on the age of the bush - the older, the more abundant fruiting. I saw large bushes, about 2 meters in diameter and 1.5 in height, completely strewn with berries. I have no problems with watering - the garden is on a slope, there is enough rainfall, I just planted it at the bottom of the slope where water flows. Productivity increased when he began to fertilize with fertilizer for rhododendrons and azaleas. It does not tolerate transplants and damage to the roots, so no tearing to pieces. Just pull out of the container and into the pit. It is important when buying to check the condition of the roots - they should not be woven like felt. Nurseries sometimes overexposure seedlings in containers, pour out a long-playing fertilizer and grow. Such instances do not take root well. Well, it’s important to select varieties according to local conditions.


I transplanted a three-year-old bush of Duke blueberries. In the early spring, it simply forged 20-25 centimeters with a pitchfork. There were no roots sticking out of the coma (they should not have been cut off, since it grows in coniferous litter, peat and sawdust). It took root perfectly, this year it gave 4 shoots of substitution of 120-130 cm and fructified.


This year, Duke advertised me as a variety that is not afraid of spring frosts, so I bought it. I liked the growth rate of the cultivar; it does not lag behind the Blue Crop. The bush is slender. One bush this year gave the berry, on June 29 the berries darkened, but still gained a taste for another week. The weight of the berries is 2.5 grams, an interesting flavor. Unlike other varieties, more even ripening of berries. For the first year, a good harvest, of course, I learned to care. Last year, Chantikler bought for a test, but has not yet pleased with a berry. It has also been read that the earliest grade. I can only say that the growth rate of the bush is less than that of Duke. My opinion is that the early berry will not be very sweet, but earlier.

. * iya *

The Duke variety is characterized by frost resistance, early fruit ripening, and productivity. For the successful cultivation of this blueberry in a personal plot, not so much effort is required. It is only necessary to take into account the nuances of growing the culture, and then for many years it will be possible to feast on delicious fresh berries and make vitamin preparations for the winter.


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