MUCH OF THE UNIVERSITY of Minnesota small fruit research takes place at the North Central Research and Outreach Center at Grand Rapids, where horticulture, agriculture, and forestry research has been under way since 1896. Here, fruits, vegetables, trees, shrubs, and flowers receive their maximum test for winter hardiness at the coldest horticultural research center in the continental U.S.
BLUEBERRIES, CURRANTS, and strawberries are grown as ornamental plants, as well as for fruit. Strawberries, currants, gooseberries, and raspberries are easy to grow in most of Minnesota. Blueberries require acidic soil, with a pH of 4.0-5.0. Have your soil tested through your county Extension office.
Strawberries can be grown as a ground cover and usually benefit from winter protection. June-bearing strawberries produce a large, concentrated crop in late spring. Everbearing types produce two smaller crops, one in late spring and one in early fall. The newer day-neutral plants are capable of producing fruit throughout most of the growing season. Strawberries normally yield 5 to 10 pounds of fruit per 10' of row.
Currant and gooseberry plants are easy to grow and do best in soils with a pH of 5.5-7.0. Hardy and productive, they provide fruit for jams and desserts. A mature gooseberry or currant can produce up to four quarts of fruit annually.
Mesabi™* 1999 very sweet, most hardy, melting texture, fine flavor (joint release with USDA-ARS)
Winona™* 1997 June bearing, large fruit, hardy and disease resistant, hints of peach flavor (joint release with USDA-ARS)
Red Lake* 1933 large red fruit, world-wide use
Polaris* 1996 intense aromatic flavor, hardy, early maturing, half-high habit
Chippewa* 1996 medium-large berries, sweet flavor, most disease resistant
St. Cloud* 1990 hardy, early maturing, 30-48" tall, 30-40" wide, yields 2-7 lbs./plant
Northcountry* 1986 medium sized berries, "wild berry flavor", 18-24" tall, 24-36" wide
Northblue* 1983 large fruit, firm, excellent for cooking
Northsky* 1983 hardy, half-high habit, compact plant
Nordic* 1987 very good flavor, red fruits ripen in summer, good for freezing
Redwing* 1986 early fall bearing, hardy, medium sized fruit
Latham* 1920 productive cultivar with large, red fruits
*=varieties available from retail nurseries, those without are heirloom varieties with limited availability
'Mesabi''™ strawberry, introduced in 1999, is the newest in a long line of U of M introductions, and is already noted for its superior flavor and yield.
'Chippewa', a very fruitful U of M blueberry, is named after the Ojibway Indians and the Chippewa National Forest, in the heart of northern Minnesota's blueberry country.
'Red Lake' is a very productive currant that reaches four to five feet tall and is grown in many parts of the world.
'Redwing' is a productive, early fall bearing, hardy raspberry.