Early Blueberry Varieties for the South Houston

blueboy1977(TX9A/B)April 5, 2013

3 early varieties have shown them selves out of my collection. The only blueberry I've had that I didn't care for out of all my varieties is a Rabbiteye called Woodard. I'm giving it one more season to see if it gets better with age. That being said some blues are better than others but I haven't had a SHB from my back yard that I didn't like. Im going to try and wait untill at least half the berries are ripe before picking. Thats if I can keep my 3 boys and wife out of my plants. Seems every couple days when Im at work a few berries go missing. Its not the birds so I have a hunch little fingers are involved! So here are my early season blues so far.

Spring High

Snow Chaser

Misty

The first Emerald starting to ripen on 4/2/13. Looks like it will be a mid early variety in my location.

Here are some photos of 2 different plants of Windsor. The first photo is the plant from JF&E and the second from FHN. You tell me if they look anything alike?

JF&E Windsor

FHN Windsor

A couple Sweet Charlie Strawberries for the boys. First year with this variety and are the largest of any varieties I've grown. The boys love them!!!

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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Blueboy,

Looks great:) Last year your season and mine were about the same but this year you are a couple weeks behind me. I wonder why? Did you have a colder winter this year?

My first flowering is just about finished in the front bed. The bed in the backyard that gets less sun has not even ripened it's first berry yet. It is amazing that a couple hours less sun can have such a dramatic result.

Those strawberries look great:)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 7:42AM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Bam, we did have little bit colder winter this year than last but thats still not saying very much. The last 2 winters havent even come close to our average. If that chill tracker is right I got around 260 chill hours. We should average around 300 to 350 in a normal year.

My SHB started there second flower about a week or two ago. The second flower is much different than the first. Long stems with one flower at each leaf node. Ive been pulling them off my first season plants but my big Emerald is going to have a bumper crop this year. Even with very stout stems they are starting to sag. I bet I get close to 20lbs of fruit off that Emerald and its a 4 year old plant. I thinned fruit buds to 5-6 on each stem and I think it set just about every one of the flowers. Its mighty impressive! Looks like it leafed out well enough to support the berries also. Couldnt be happier with that variety;)

Rabbiteyes are about half way through flowering and fruit set seems to be very good aswell.

Those strawberries are great! I got 25 plants this past Nov and next year will have to double up, atleast! 25 plants only gives you a handfull every couple days and the boys demand more.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:25AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Blueboy,

The last two winters have been nice. I have maybe 10 rabbiteye and of the 10 at least 7 have had very poor bloom.....they are just not getting enough chill. The bed they are in is closer to the lake I live on and that does not help the chill situation at all. I have marked them for removal I am sad to say and if they go they all will go.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:00AM
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bennylafleur(6 E. Tn.)

Blueboy

I have several rabbiteye and one SHB - O'Neal, so I know nothing about the SHB that you are growing. Some sources state that O'Neal is one of the better tasting and larger SHB.
Do you know how O'Neal compares with yours as far as flavor, size, and ripening time. It ripens about 3 weeks ahead of Climax in my location

Benny

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:12PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Ive only tasted Oneal at a local nursery here in Seabrook Tx. Taste was very good! Only reason I dont grow it is the chill requirement. Its alittle on the high side for my location but that may not be the case as many 450 chill hour plants I have had no problem flowering and setting fruit last season which was one of the warmest on record. Ive also read that it is a lite bearer which kinda turned me off. Its a older variety by todays standards but still a good one. Ive been more interested in the newer varieties. The berries I tasted were very small but the plant was picked over pretty good cause its at a nursery. Plus it was a very young plant and shouldnt have let flowers develop on it any way. Its a good way to sell them though! I believe Oneal is a early/mid early rippening blueberry. Dont quote me on that. Its definiatly compairable to any berry I have as far as taste goes. I thought they were really tasty and even though about buying the poor thing to save it.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:54PM
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sun-junkie(9)

Impressive! Up here in the Heights our bushes have a good amount of fruit set from the early budding but new flushes keep on coming. Brightwell is maxing out this year. Climax isn't quite as large as last season but there's still time right?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:03PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Sun junkie, do you thin fruit buds on your rabbiteyes?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 5:13PM
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nandakumar(7)

Hi Blueboy,

Your blueberry bushes look great.

I live in Dallas and I started my gardening this year, as per the local nursery folks suggestion I got these four bushes and planted them in large containers
1. Bountiful Blue
2. Peach Sorbet
3. Sunshine Blue
4. Palmetto

I have a decent backyard but I went on a shopping spree and planted all kinds trees and plants, probably I can add 3 to 4 more blues. I did some research and found these Varieties suitable for Dallas area
- Tifblue
- Premier
- Woodard
- Climax
- Brightwel
- Powder Blue
- Pink Lemonade, a local nursery sells this pink blueberry and it looks interesting

It will be helpful if you could suggest from this list or some other varieties that flowers and ripens at different times of the year, basically I like to have extended fruit picking. season. Thanks

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 6:11PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Of the Rabbiteyes you list I've only grown brightwell, Woodard and powder blue. Of those I would recommend Brightwell highly. Hands down the best rabbiteye I grow. Woodard has not been good for me. Tiftblue is suppost to be very good and Sunjunkie speaks highly of Climax. So tiftblue, bright well, and climax would be my recommendation.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:35PM
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sun-junkie(9)

Yep, Brightwell and Climax seem to be the consensus. 350-450 chill hours. Brightwell has a longer ripening season, Climax is more commercial. You'll get a bulk crop and then have fresh picks daily for weeks.

Blue,
No fruit bud thinning. I will start to remove canes next winter though so more sun can penetrate the bush. -friends/family always laughs when I say that.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:50PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

You said bush;) LOL!!!!! I finally had to taste my 3 early blues and Springhigh is much better than Snowchaser IMO. I think I need to let Misty hang a few more days to get the full effect. My wife liked Snowchaser better than Springhigh. Goes to show you can never depend on one persons observations. One thing we all agree on is Brightwell. It's the family favorite so far but I have a feeling that's all gonna change when sweetcrisp rippens. This will be our first season with it and should have a few pounds for sampling. Can't wait;)

This post was edited by blueboy1977 on Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 23:39

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:29PM
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nandakumar(7)

Thanks blueboy and sunjunkie,

I got two taken care With Birghtwell and Climax. Can these two grown in containers or better to plant them in ground?

Between, any idea about the 'Pink Lemonade' variety. It seems unique, just wanted to give it a try.

Thanks

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Bradybb(wa8)

nandakumar,
I have a Pink Lemonade.The berries are sweet.It will probably do well in Zone7.It's becoming more popular now,because of it's unique berry color.It didn't get a whole lot of fruit last year when I bought it,but it has a lot of flower buds now. Brady

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 5:02PM
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nandakumar(7)

Thanks Brady, I'll give it a try for the color of the berry.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:21PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

If you have clay soil plant them in a raised bed at least 8 inches high. The higher the better. Give them a 4x4 area to spread there feet and plant them 6ft apart. I made mine out of 2x10 pine but I only made a 3x3 and wish I would have made them 4x4. They filled up the 3x3 box with roots in 2 seasons. Rabbiteyes root systems are big, much bigger than high bush. I filled mine with mostly peat moss and some pine bark. A good mix would be 60% pine bark mulch, 30% peat moss and 10% perilite or sand. Then cover the bed with at least 3 inches of pine bark mulch. They will grow like weeds!!!! Rabbiteyes don't need much fertilizer either. Too much will nuke them so a little goes along way.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:58PM
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nandakumar(7)

Thanks again Blueboy,

Ours is clay soil, the best option is a raised bed for any thing to have a healthy growth.

Probably it is a dumb question, your blueberry's already have ripe fruits, how did the pollination happen in the winter (haven't noticed bees or butterflies here) is it thru manual pollination or they are self fertile?

Thanks,

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 3:51PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

As long as its warm here and you have flowers, the bees are out regardless of what time of year it is. We have mild winters in Houston so pollination usually isn't a problem. Last Feb when most of my SHB bloomed it got pretty cool and the bees were not active. I got nervous and orderd some hornfaced mason bees to help pollinate and they did on a small scale. When the temp got back to 60 degrees the bees came out in full force.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:24PM
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nandakumar(7)

Thanks Blueboy, I'm looking forward to next winter/spring.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 6:03PM
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