early blueberries for z7 NC?

cousinfloydAugust 13, 2013

Can anyone recommend blueberry varieties for the western edge of the North Carolina Piedmont that would get my season going earlier?

This year I started picking rabbiteyes (Climax, Premier, Bluebelle, Woodard) about June 27, but I'm wondering what I could pick before then. I picked some Legacy blueberries on June 17, and they're definitely better than nothing, but they weren't very sweet, and of the two Legacy bushes I planted one took about twice as long to reach the same size and start fruiting well as my rabbiteyes, and the other Legacy has just barely survived for 6 years and probably isn't as many inches tall still. Anyways, I'd hope for something a little better adapted to my conditions (more like the rabbiteyes), but I could work with anything like the Legacy for an earlier start on the season, all the more if the taste were better. What's the earliest blueberry I could try? What's not quite as early but still at least a week earlier than the rabbiteyes and worth growing for relatively better flavor?

Shazaam, if you see this, I'd be interested to hear more of what's worked for you. Your mention of Reka in another thread caught my interest. I also planted an Oneal over a year ago, but I didn't let it produce any fruit this year so it could pull all its energy into getting established better. If you know, I'd be interested in your experience of relative ripening times.

Thanks, everyone.

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shazaam(NC 7B)

I started picking a few Reka berries in late May, O'Neal during the first week of June, and Southmoon and Duke during the second week of June. This was my first year for the first three, and Duke definitely suffered in comparison. It's still good (it's a blueberry, after all), but I really enjoyed the plump, sweet O'Neal and Southmoon berries. Reka was very good, as well, with more tartness than the other two.

What are you still picking at this point? My Tifblue, Bluebelle, and Brightwells are winding down -- they'll probably be finished in another week or so. I'm hoping to extend my season next year with some Ocholockonee and Centurion rabbiteyes that I'm currently growing out, both of which are supposed to be very late.

EDIT: Never mind the question, Eric. I just read your other post, and it's very helpful. I'll continue the conversation in that thread since it's OT for this one.

This post was edited by shazaam on Tue, Aug 13, 13 at 20:15

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 8:13PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)


I received your e-mail, but I wasn't able to reply -- it looks like you haven't authorized GW to share your e-mail address.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 1:53PM
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O'neal were the earliest for me in Raleigh. They were blooming in December and continued blooming off and on til Spring. Flavor was great. They were more than a month earlier than every other variety but I didn't write anything down so I can't be sure.

A friend that was visiting me in the Spring noticed my O'neals and she said "Oh, you must have been one of the few that found real O'neals" evidently people ordering from one of the large commercial nurseries got miss-labeled plants. I got mine from a variety of sources, even the farmers market here in town. All of mine bloomed at the same time and fruited at the same time so I'm pretty sure they are O'neals.

My Aronia bushes fruited earlier this month. It was nice to have another berry crop following the blue's but the juice was mighty tangy. I doubt anyone would buy it without it being sweetened.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Floyd, your climate should be cool enough for northern highbush, no? Thats mainly what I grow and my weather is not all that different from yours (I am further north but in the lowlands by the ocean). The bushes always look really healthy, even in the heat of summer, unlike my cherries and currants which get unhappy looking. Get some Earliblue and you will have really early berries.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:30AM
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