Who domesticated blueberries?
A the risk of sounding like I'm on a bandwagon, I'm thinking 2020 is the year or women! Strong, valiant women! Today's Daily Doodle has a brilliant woman as a driving force behind domestic blueberries. But, let's go back to why I chose today's Doodle. Well, to be honest, I had a bunch of blueberries that were on the verge of turning. (I had bought a large pack telling myself this will be the year I can eat blueberries without gaging... I know, I'm weird, but I just struggle eating raw blueberries) Enter blueberry muffins!
So, while I'm mixing in the blueberries, I thought to myself, I wonder when these became a crop instead of just wild blueberries dotting the countryside. Enter Google and my quick and efficient search for a domesticated blueberry! (thank goodness)
Now to our brilliant woman behind the domestic blueberry: In 1893 Elizabeth White, daughter of a New Jersey cranberry grower, saw potential in domesticating blueberries and adding them to the family's crops. At this point others were telling her it was impossible to domesticate blueberries.
1908 Frederick Coville, a USDA botanist, started seeking superior wild blueberries to attempt to cultivate a domestic blueberry with ideal characteristics. It took two years to discover blueberries could only thrive in acidic soil. The following year, in 1911, Elizabeth White read Dr. Coville's "Experiments in Blueberries" and invited him to the family farm to use their land and partner with each other in the blueberry cultivation experiments.
It only took one year (1912) for their first domesticated blueberry bush to crop up. In 1916 the duo harvested and sold their first commercial crop of highbush blueberries. It took only one more year (1917) for packaging for Whitesbog Blueberries to be created and "blueberry fever" swept the region.
Are you surprised? We've only had domestic blueberries for just over a century, thanks to a determined woman and a botanist who clearly saw her worth. Both pioneers of agriculture and the reason we have easy access to this superfood.