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Blueberries or Huckleberries for market....  RSS feed

 
William Bronson
Posts: 1491
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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While looking for plants to grow alongside blueberries in containers I came across huckleberries. And they seem to be more of a replacement then a companion plant. So which one of these berries would you want to bring to Market?
I have seen fresh blueberries for sale here in Cincinnati. They were incredible!
Based on that I considered getting into the same business,or at least growing some for myself.

But p'raps Huckleberry's would be a better niche? I have never tasted huckleberries,never seen them for sale around here,and they sound great.

I plan on growing in barrels of peat moss ,with alpine strawberries,in full sun.
My soils are not acidic and I want to water rarely,but keep the berries happy.
I imagine I might need to net them against squirrels and birds.

So, which one is better? Or perhaps neither,and another berry would yield higher profits?
 
Kevin Goheen
Posts: 21
Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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I don't know about huckleberries, but blueberries where I live are very expensive. Huckleberries are never seen like ever. While its cool I think the main issue you might encounter is that the public in your area may need to get used to them because people usually buy what they are used to eating. However huckleberries shouldn't be any harder to grow. Blueberries are rock solid plants, they grow great here and I have seen summers spike to 115 for about a day.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 503
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Thornless blackberries are easier to grow. They don't need acidic soils or as much moisture. I believe they are higher yielding. They are much bigger, so they will easier and faster to harvest.  Sales price is probably less.

I think huckleberries and blueberries are pretty much the same thing. Raintree Nursery has good descriptions. If I remember right, the name depends on what part of the country they grow in.

I like alpine strawberries. They taste great. They aren't very productive for me, less than 1/10th the yield of commercial strawberries.
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
Posts: 491
Location: Pac Northwest
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You don't see huckleberries sold because they are a labor intensive berry to harvest typically. While Blueberries can be harvested at a much lower cost with less labor intense methods in comparison.

This issue of labor intensive harvesting tends to make huckleberries a rather expensive berry if sold in a market, so much so that it tends to not be worth the effort to try and get consumers to over come what Kevin was saying about buying what they are used to.

Honestly though, huckleberries taste amazing and are well worth you at least finding some to taste. Even if you couldn't sell the berries you could make them into jams, and other products that have a long enough shelf life to find a customer.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 503
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Blackberries would do better planted in the ground, unless there's some reason you can't do that.

I should have said that blackberries are much easier to grow here. Some places blueberries might do better.
 
Marissa Creston
Posts: 50
Location: Flathead, Montana
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Huckleberries (Vaccinium membranaceum) are a wonderful wild food, much beloved by man and bear alike, but they have not been much domesticated. Expect low yields and variable quality. We have a thriving local market - last I heard pickers were getting $40 a gallon - no doubt boosted by the tourist trade. But I'm not sure they would have the same cache in Cincinnati. At the very least, do try growing a few for yourself
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1491
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Thanks for all the replies!
I have blackberries already, started with two, propagated out to a whole hedge
They produce even if I don't prune,they are great!
The blueberries are for a plot with no water supply and soil that is mostly rubble.
I never liked blueberries until I tried them local,fresh and organic. Before I wondered what the point of these bland mushy pellets was,beyond being healthy.
Now I know what they are supposed to taste like!

Even the handful my in ground berry bush produced before it gave up the ghost didn't impress me.
Having seen the light, I think they are must have fruits for me.

So other than lower yields, what makes huckleberries hard to harvest?
I am certain that I can sell all I can grow, to chefs or local food enthusiasts in Northside.
Maybe I'll just grow them for me,if they really don't yield enough. Blueberries can yield plenty,from what I have seen...
 
Ray Moses
Posts: 109
Location: Brighton, Michigan
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I heard the same thing about huckleberries that they're rather hard to domesticate Hartmans plant company in Michigan does sell them however
 
Wes Hunter
Posts: 369
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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It might depend on how much you intend/hope to sell and what the market is like. If blueberries are already plentiful you may have a difficult time elbowing your way in.  Then again they're a popular fruit with a short season, so it may be easy.

We harvest wild gooseberries from our woodlot and sell upwards of 50 quarts a year.  The only thing we have in it is time.  They take a long time to pick, but we price them so we are adequately compensated.  Demand isn't huge, but people who buy them love them (mostly they buy them BECAUSE they love them), and nobody else seems to be offering them.  It's fun to sell something that folks can't readily find elsewhere, which should be part of the equation.

Myself, I tend to settle these questions by asking what I'm more interested in, which basically equates to which I'd rather eat (assuming I must pick one or the other).  I figure that the more interested I am, the better I'll be able to market it.  And if there doesn't turn out to be sufficient market, at least I'm stuck with the one I was more interested in eating in the first place.
 
Lynn Garcia
Posts: 39
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My family has been wild harvesting Huckleberries for four generations in Montana. My great grandfather planted many on his vineyard in the hopes he could domesticate them, but they didn't take very well. It may have been lack of knowledge about plant breeding and that he was a bit of a crazy moonshiner who drank to much of his hooch but..... The main problem I see for you selling them out in the East is that they are not known to your future customers. This will be a problem mainly in that they are a VERY STRONGLY flavored berry. My family always kept large freezers just for huckleberries since they would completely fill a refrigerator or freezer and everything in it with their scent and taste. Permanently. Most Westerners who harvest them in these times make preserves or syrup with them since it is much easier to keep their aromatics from tainting other foods. That said they are a great berry once you acquire a taste for them and they are very healthy eating.  Out west no one really cultivates them because they are so abundant that there is really no need.  Just walk out into a patch (armed with bear spray and loud bells on sticks, oh and a gun is a good idea too,) and fill bucket after bucket when they are in season. My whole extended family would go out for a day and come back with a good sized trailer and the truck bed pulling it filled with them.

As a further aside. Huckleberries are a dry land plant.  They are most common in areas with between 20 inches of rain a year and about 11 inches a year.  They may not grow well in the more wet and humid East.
 
Regan Dixon
Posts: 133
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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There are so many different kinds of huckleberries--red ones, black ones--and the ones I am familiar with, are not dryland huckleberries, but grow where there is plenty of precipitation, either liquid or frozen.  Some are slow picking, some pick quickly.  Some bake better than others.  I haven't met any that would make a freezer smell like them.  I would say, get both huckleberries and blueberries, and experiment with them in your own kitchen, seeing if your local kind bakes well, and maybe include a recipe you like, in each basket you sell, to get people warmed up to them if they're unfamiliar.
A nice thick mulch of pine needles is generally recommended.
 
Lynn Garcia
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Regan Dixon wrote:There are so many different kinds of huckleberries--red ones, black ones--and the ones I am familiar with, are not dryland huckleberries, but grow where there is plenty of precipitation, either liquid or frozen.  Some are slow picking, some pick quickly.  Some bake better than others.  I haven't met any that would make a freezer smell like them.  I would say, get both huckleberries and blueberries, and experiment with them in your own kitchen, seeing if your local kind bakes well, and maybe include a recipe you like, in each basket you sell, to get people warmed up to them if they're unfamiliar.
A nice thick mulch of pine needles is generally recommended.


The variety that grow in the mountains of Montana definitely are that strong. It is common knowledge throughout the state and into Wyoming, among those who harvest them. I  believe you about the wet climate ones in BC being considerably different.  Sounds like the original poster should look into a variety that will accept the wetter climate of PA.  Possibly some from your region.  They should avoid any from the arid Rocky Mountains though, they will not grow well in wet zones with one region of Montana as an exception to this rule. The far Northwest corner of the state is very much like the temperate rain forests of BC, Washington, and Oregon. I would assume the huckleberries growing there would be similar to your experience.
 
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