Non-Producing Blueberry Bush

raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)March 8, 2014

I have two blueberry bushes in half whiskey barrels, sitting side by side -- an O'Neal and a Reveille. For the last few seasons, the O'Neal has thrived while the Reville has produced a disappointingly small blueberry harvest. This year it appears the trend continues. (See photo.)

Should I abandon hope on the Reveille? If not, what steps could I take to try and rejuvenate the plant? If so, when's the best time to start with a new blueberry plant?

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They both look good. By few I guess you mean it has been at least 3 seasons. For it not to fruit (flower) again may mean inadequate chill hours. DWN lists 400-500 hours which I would have thought Sacramento received. Just a thought.

As for what to do, a dud is a dud. Get rid of it. Buy a 3 yr. (3 gal) old now and you might get fruit this year. Might try one of the other 200 chillers like O'Neil since it is successful at your place.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 6:37PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, this is the third season in a row that the Reveille is putting on a poor show. Foliage looks fine, but few berries.

This was an exceptionally cold winter, so I'd think we easily got 400-500 hours.

As for a recommended replacement, we've already got the O'Neal sitting there, and don't blueberries prefer a different variety to cross pollinate with?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 6:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

If you want high production get a Jewel or Emerald. For best quality fruit try Sweetcrisp, Springhigh, or Snowchaser.

I had Reveille and it won't produce either. In a normal yr you get 1,000 hrs chilling, less this yr despite the cold but plenty.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:19PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

While high production sounds great, we're only feeding a family of four, so I think we'd opt for the tastiest berries we can get. Of course, my six-year-old can put a whole lot o' berries away come June. :)

Among Sweetcrisp, Springhigh, and Snowchaser, is there a standout that would serve well as a companion blueberry for our well-performing O'Neal?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 11:27PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

None of the three S varieties are easy to find because they are relatively new. I just bought Snowchaser from Florida Hill Nursery despite having issues with them in the past. Sweetcrisp is the best fruit I've eaten but production has been low, at best half Emerald. There is a current thread on where to find it. You can get Springhigh from FHN and possibly elsewhere.

I haven't grown Oneal but all my other SHB bloom pretty much together.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 11:46PM
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Fruitnut, your right about Sweetcrisp. I thought this year was going to be a break out year for my Sweetcrisp because of the number of fruitbuds it had this season. Most of my branches had 7-10 buds and some more. I went ahead and thinned buds down to 5-6 per branch but I probably could have just left them. Every fruit bud seems to only produce 2-6 berries opposed to Emerald which can produce 10-12 berries per bud but my reasoning to thin buds was weight distribution. Last season when they ripend the weight of the fruit almost pulled some branches to the ground due to its thin branches. This year will it will do the same, probably more so since I have twice the amount of fruit buds as last year. Hopefully no branches will break with high winds this spring. I'm going to start training Sweetcrisp alittle different this year. After fruit harvest it's getting cut way back and all new growth will get pinched at 4-5 inches long. My plants have gotten so lanky the last two seasons and it wouldn't be a problem if it had baseball bat branches like Emerald but it's such a thin branched cultivar I think it needs more attention than most. Hopefully I can leave all the fruit buds on next season with no worries of weight problems. I was suprised at the size of Sweetcrisp berries as well. They were well above average in size so weight of ripening fruit will become an issue for out doors growers like my self.

To the original poster, like fruitnut said, get one Emerald and one Jewel for production. They put on lbs of fruit and it's good quality as well. I actually prefer the flavor of Jewel over Emerald. Jewel had a stronger blueberry flavor for me but was alittle more watery than Emerald. That being said they are both great berries and a must have for Southern growers. The other 3 varieties fruitnut mentioned are all about quality fruit. Those were the best flavored berries for me last season. If you only get one or two more, make it Sweetcrisp!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 2:03PM
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One question for Reymond, all though some varieties naturally produce less fruit than others it's extremely important to keep these lite bearing varieties well watered in the fall to get the max amount of fruit buds to set. The number of fruit buds set has every thing to do with water in the fall. Too little water and you see it the following spring with reduced fruit production. When do you start backing off the water in the fall?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 2:12PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


If you've got enough Sweetcrisp fruit to weigh the branches down you are doing great!! But then it doesn't take that much. As you say the branches are long and skinny. It's really not a good variety for a beginner. It never would have been released with that awful growth pattern if not for such great fruit.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:06PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

>When do you start backing off the water in the fall?I hand-water the blueberries until the rains come, usually in late October or early November. They're treated like any of my other potted patio plants, watered once every other day or two during the hottest days of summer. The O'Neal gets the exact same treatment and is thriving.

I wish I had room for several blueberry plants, but limited full-sun area will only allow me the two plants on my patio. But perhaps I can get my wife to sacrifice some rose bushes in the front for some tasty blueberries.

Thanks for the input here, folks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:12PM
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I had never heard that about watering in fall to manipulate fruit bud production. Can you share a link to some research on this or provide any more details?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:15PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

Came across this piece of advice:

"The University of California advises growers of blueberries in containers to replace the soil with fresh potting mix as well as root prune the plant every 3 to 4 years."

I wonder whether it'd be worth trying that before yanking the Reveille? Or whether I should just cut my losses and start with a fresh plant?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:51PM
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I have read some where online that a water stressed plant will not form as many fruit buds. Where I read this is a good question. I've read just about every thing online that I can find on blues which is a lot of articles so I can't recall exactly which one it is. Blues form there fruit buds in the fall so you don't want them getting water stressed at that time.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:19PM
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