The blueberry, along with the cranberry, is an important crop of the New Jersey Pinelands. Like the cranberry, it was known to the Indians and early settlers in its wild form. For centuries, people gathered wild blueberries and huckleberries. The huckleberry looks similar to the blueberry, but has 10 large seeds within each berry.
The development of blueberry farming began in 1906 when a scientist, Doctor Frederick Coville, started experimenting to create a better blueberry. Elizabeth White, daughter of a cranberry farmer, read about his work and invited him to conduct his experiments on her father's farm. Miss White was interested in finding a kind of blueberry would produce large berries which could be grown as another crop on her father's large farm, called Whitesbog, located in Pemberton Township, Burlington County.
Miss White encouraged local people to go out into the woods look for bushes with large berries. She offered cash rewards for the largest berries and named the bushes after the finder.
Dr. Coville used the six best bushes for his experiments. Thousands of young plants were developed from these. Miss White named these new varieties (bushes) Adams, Harding, Sam, Dunfee, Rubel and Grover,
In 1916, the first crop of cultivated blueberries was produced for sale. The project proved to be a success. Then Miss White improved the packing process for fresh fruit - she was the first person to use clear cellophane to protect the fruit and make it look attractive.
Blueberry farming quickly spread to other areas where growing conditions were right. Blueberries need an acidic soil, an abundant supply of soil moisture, and good drainage, so the roots can get air during the growing season.
Today, New Jersey is one of the leaders in the production of fresh blueberries.