Better varieties make the farm
No decision a Blueberry grower makes is more important than choosing which varieties to grow. It’s a “bet the farm” decision that considers numerous genetic traits carried by each variety tested. How well does it grow? How productive is it? Will the fruit harvest well and stay fresh long enough? Does it have crisp texture and great flavor? -And many more important traits. We’ve chosen a handful of super fruit varieties suited to our Florida farm. If you’re fortunate enough to find them, you’re in for a real taste treat!
Our “go-to” variety because of its long lasting, tasty berries. It’s a precocious bloomer that sets a heavy crop of medium to large berries on a vigorous, compact bush. Farthing grows well at Frogmore and we love its almost crisp texture.
A fairly new cultivar (released in 2009) with big, beautiful berries of superbly complex flavor. Although it takes extra years to get going, it’s worth the wait for its large crops of firm, lasting fruit that wow with exceptional taste. Meadowlark is a new step forward in Blueberry breeding.
Although Sweetcrisp does not produce an abundance of fruit, the fruit it does bear is exceptional. Remarkably sweet, medium to large berries are so firm they extend their freshness and literally burst when bitten, hence the name “Sweet” and “crisp”. Always in short supply, but always the berry block those in the know make a bee line to pick.
Growing Quality with Care
Farming With Care
Farming at Frogmore is not a part time job. It’s a truly life absorbing avocation for each member of our team. Every day brings new challenges and exciting change as our berry plants grow and progress from tiny sprigs to hefty bushes laden with nutritious fruit. Experienced judgment and careful attention to every little detail is a must, but even more important is the desire and commitment of our people to work long hours and keep the health of our plants as their top priority. At Frogmore we are the caretakers thousands of Blueberry plants… and the precious water and soil they thrive on. We are proud to have good people who care about our farm and work to grow the best Blueberries we possibly can.
Applying Science and Technology
Growing Blueberries successfully is an exacting process that requires knowledge of agricultural science. Each Blueberry variety responds in its own unique way to its growing environment, including soils and climate. Providing them with just the right amount and type of water and nutrition over the course of each month of the year, and each year as they age, requires a high level of precision. Too much can cause disease and wasted resources. Too little can stunt growth or lead to long term root damage. We apply plant science developed by universities and growers over the years to perfect our own growing technique. We also perform our own tests to research how to best grow our Blueberry varieties on the fields at Frogmore Farm. To leverage the benefits of sound plant science, we invest in innovative growing technology, improving the timing and accuracy of our growing inputs (I.E. water, nutrition, etc.). A small sample of technology we employ are: internet /mobile control of irrigation events; automated data tracking of the plant environment such as weather, soil moisture, fertility and pH (soil acidity); detailed field mapping by GPS to form exact growing rows to enhance self-steering equipment; and data mapping harvest records for superior food safety traceability. Our goal for technology is to do more and better things with less.
Preparing for Super Fruit
If we’ve done a good job of feeding, watering, and protecting our Blueberry bushes from bugs and storms, by late May (at Frogmore in Florida) spring harvest is coming to a close. Now we kick off a year of caretaking for next spring’s nice crop of Super Fruit. Blueberries follow the cycle of life of many native American perennial shrubs, so good growing has to stay in tune with its annual biology.
A few milestones along the growing calendar are:
- Pruning or hedging-back after harvest to renew fruiting wood and lessen the burden of supporting old fruit. Done just after harvest.
- Summer of maximum growth to build a larger, bush to support lots of healthy flower buds and berries. They need plenty of water and food to grow foliage and stems during long, hot days.
- Fall (starting in September) brings a transition from leaf buds to flower buds so less plant food and cooler nights help buds decide to become flowers instead of leaves.
- Winter brings the colder nights and a required number of chill hours to set the stage for flowering. Once the buds swell enough, frosts can kill blossoms and fruit. Cold snaps bring nightly vigils.
- Flowers come in early spring, February-March (even as early as January) so the bees are hard at work sunup to sundown.
- Fruit is swelling come March most years at Frogmore so harvest preparations are intense.
- Finally we harvest! Almost every day from late March to mid-May… then we start all over again!
Frogmore is a family farm and the family understands how important the land is for today’s generations, and those to come. The Frogmore team shares this value and makes stewardship of our natural world, and the farm that abides within it, a primary objective and a part of daily practice.
A few ways we conserve and sustain our beautiful land:
- Precisely calculated, data controlled watering and fertigation through our targeted drip irrigation system. No run-off of nutrients and much less water consumed.
- Ground cover cloth over raised beds to minimize weeds and evaporation.
- Complete field coverage with ground cover and grasses to prevent soil erosion and run-off.
- Whole farm management for sustainable wildlife, pastureland, woodlands and wetlands. Greater Frogmore is hundreds of acres of amazing biodiversity.