I found nearly ripe blueberries in the mountains near Manley Hotsprings Road! This seemed very early to me. Most of the bushes were very full of green berries that looked to be a few weeks form ripening (which also seemed early). But, in some of the warmer south facing spots there were almost ripe berries that were almost completely blue and just a bit sour when eaten.
Katie Spellman, Ecologist at the UAF International Arctic Research Center, writes:
Hi Heather! Thank you so much for sharing your observation of early ripening blueberries. I wonder what the snow cover was like where you were standing? We know that the timing of snow melt really drives the timing of berry production and ripening for blueberry and lingonberry, so with your observation, it is possible to look at the timing of snowmelt from remote sensing images and see if that helps explain the early berries where you were hiking! We are tracking the phenology of berry species using pressed herbarium specimens, careful tracking around UAF and At the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research area, and with help from observations like yours. Blueberry seems to be one of the more variable of the berries across years over the past 100 years, and the really early and really late years are increasing in variability for Vaccinium uliginosum. Thanks Heather!
Comments from LEO Editors:
During the winter of 2019-2020, the Fairbanks International Airport recorded more snow accumulation than average. Warm spring temperatures caused rapid snowmelt in many parts of the interior.
Snow Depth Measured at the Fairbanks International Airport