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The Chippewa blueberry of the Vaccinium species is a variety of blueberry that was developed in 1996 at the University of Minnesota in the United States to be especially hardy in cold climates. To withstand the harsh cold, as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius), the Chippewa blueberry was cultivated as a “half-high” variety, meaning that even at maturity it stands about half as high as the traditional blueberry bush.
The Chippewa blueberry bush grows to a height of approximately 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters), while traditional blueberry bushes can grow as high as 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) tall. Being lower to the ground makes it more likely that the plant will receive a substantial covering of snow, which acts like a blanket by keeping the plant warm. In the US, the Chippewa blueberry can be grown in Zones 3 to 7, or from as far north as Minnesota to as far southeast as western North Carolina and across to northern Texas. Some growers even report success growing it in Zone 8, which includes virtually all of the US except for Florida and southern Texas.
While other half-high blueberry varieties were developed earlier, such as the Northblue, Northcountry and Northsky, the Chippewa blueberry bush is a bit taller and grows sweeter, larger fruit. In order to produce the most fruit, it should be planted near other varieties of half-high blueberries. When the fruit ripens mid-season, the Chippewa blueberry’s extra height makes it easier to pick as well. It can be expected to bear fruit beginning with its second season, and become most fruitful by the third and fourth growing seasons, bearing from 3 to 8 pounds (1.4 to 2.7 kilograms) of blueberries.
The Chippewa blueberry also doubles as an ornamental hedge. Its dark green leaves are thicker than those of other varieties and turn a brilliant red in fall. In the spring, clusters of white flowers appear, followed by plump, light-blue berries in mid-summer.
Like most blueberries, the Chippewa blueberry requires an acidic soil with a pH of 4.0-5.0, which can usually be accomplished by mulching with pine needles. It requires 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) of rain per week to grow the larger berries. Due to its smaller height and narrower spread, the Chippewa can be spaced closer together than other varieties, approximately 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) apart. Rows should be placed at the same distance, or the plants can be grown in clusters enclosed by tight plastic or fine mesh to keep out the birds.
Yesterday, I was over visiting my neighbor down the street. He showed me the mini blueberry bushes that he grew in pots on his patio. I thought that I might like to try growing blueberries. He said that he had a good crop of large juicy berries last year.
He told me that first he got a kit and tested to make sure his soil had enough acid in it. Then he ordered the miniature blueberry bushes. When they came, they were in great shape. He planted them in the good soil in full sun. You have to be very patient because they don't produce berries for about two years.
During this waiting time, he talked to the bushes and in two years, the fruits of his labor appeared. One last thing - be sure to cover the bushes with net to keep the birds from getting your blueberries!
It really boggles my mind that scientists can cultivate new species of plants that can thrive in different climates, like the Chippewa blueberry.
Blueberries are such a delicious and healthy food, it's great that they can be grown well in most of the United States. Of course, you can only get them from spring to fall. Other times of the year, they have to be imported.
But, at least, during part of the year, you can get them locally and they will be fresh and maybe less expensive.
Hopefully, in the future, scientists can figure out ways to develop varieties of other food that will grow well anywhere in the U.S.
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