South Houston Blueberry Update

blueboy1977(TX9A/B)November 3, 2012

Well fall is here, my plants have pretty much stopped growing with just a hand full still pushing. Leafs are changing color and I can smell turkey and dressing in the air. It has to be fall! I've had a really good season as far as growth goes, didn't loose any plants and I'm really looking forward to tasting all the different varieties next spring.

Rabbiteyes did well with the exception of some leaf fungus problems from the very wet spring we had. I only fruited 3 varieties and Brightwell was hands down the winner of the Rabbiteyes. The fruit was very sweet and you eat them as soon as they changed color while the others were a guessing game as to when to pick them. They had to stay on the bush at least 2 weeks to sweeten up.

Souther High Bush grew well but fought thrips from spring till now. In the last few weeks I'm seeing some powdery mildew on 3 varieties of SHB but the others are spotless. Spring time should be off the chain as far as berries go!

I've got a lot of pics so bear with me. My whole goal is to see what varieties perform well in my area and then thin them out to only the best ones in the next few years. So far I've been lucky as all of them have grown well but a lot are still in their first year. Only time will tell.


Woodard 3 years old, nice plant but berry quality isn't very impressive.

Brightwell 3 years old, good sweet berries.

Beckyblue 3 years old, berries are good if left on plant at least 2 weeks

Blue Gem 2 years old will fruit next spring.

Alapaha 2 years old but still having a hard time establishing. If this plant doesn't take off next spring it's a gone.

Austin 2 years old and will replace the Alapaha in the raised bed if it doesn't take off.


Bountiful Blue 3 years old, had to cut this plant back severely last spring due to stem blight for the nursery but seems to be doing fine now except for a touch of powdery mildew on some of the lower leafs. Good sized berries and my sons favorite for taste. Getting some fall color already.

Windsor 2 years old and a 1 year old, will fruit for the first next spring.

Gulf Coast 3 years old, had to cut this plant back to the ground last spring also due to stem blight for the nursery. I thought I would loose this one too but it came back. Berry quality is okay. Good flavor but a little mushy for my taste.

Sunshine Blue 3 years old, cool plant, easy to grow and real confidence booster. Puts out a lot of medium sized berries with good flavor and firmness. Fire red in fall but a paint to prune. Very twiggy plant that requires very hard pruning in feb and after harvest. Berry size is good if pruned hard in feb, small berries if not.

Emerald 3 years old, 2 years old, and 1 year old. This plant is a beast and grows at I controlled rates. I highly recommend this plant for our area. Heavy producer, good berries and very sturdy. One of my favorites.

Southmoon 3 years old and 1 year old. Will fruit for the first time this spring.

Sweetcrisp both 2 years old. The smaller one took awhile to take off for some reason so that's why there is such a size difference. Can't wait to taste these. Suppost to be the best from what I've read.

The rest of the plants are 1 year old and will fruit this spring.





Sharp blue

Spring high

Snow Chaser

Unknown variety from Florida Hill Nursery


3 wire trellis of Tupi and Kiowa blackberries. Kiowa wasn't very impressive for me on taste. Most were very sour even after letting them get dull and soft. Haven't had home grown Tupi yet but will this spring so I got my fingers crossed that they are sweet.

That's all I got. I can't wait till next spring!!!

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

IMO, those are the best I've ever seen. Very nice job. Hard work does pay off. Bushes like that just don't grow by magic. I have 7 blueberry bushes in containers, and I thought mine were growing well, but now that I've seen yours, I have a long way to go. Keep up the good work. Getting ready to put mine in their winter resting home. the 5 NHBs will stay outside, and the 2 SHBs will go in the garage.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 5:31PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Blueboy is a blueberry growing machine!! Those are great looking bushes!!!

But you seem a little short on plants. Want some of my extras??

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 5:32PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Yes,very nice plants blueboy.I took your advice and now have a couple of Rabbiteyes,a Columbus and a Yadkin.They are still very young,but if they grow well,I'll probably get a Brightwell.
Ha ha,good one fruitnut. Brady

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 5:56PM
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Nice plants! Thanks for sharing... you grow other fruits as well or just berries for you.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 7:20PM
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Thanks for the replies;) It is a constant battle to grow the things but I'm so addicted to growing them I wonder how I ever made it through life with out them. Growing fruit is truly addicting! I do grow citrus also but blues are my thing right now. I want to expand alittle into Peaches and Figs also and plan on getting that going in the next month or so, all though I wont go to that extreme. A couple peaches and figs is all I need. I'm thinking about trying to graft some SHB to Rabbiteyes root stock. I've seen video of a guy in Japan grafting Spartan to Rabbiteye rootstock and wonder if my Woodard is compatible with SHB? It would be fun to try.

Fruitnut, I don't want anymore and I believe I still owe you a few. I need to get rid of a Jewel, abundance, primadonna and Emerald if your still interested? I've got 2 or 3 of those varieties and really need to thin the herd alittle. If we get another drought like we had the year before I won't have enough rain water to go around.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2012 at 9:47PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


The plants look great. Sure glad we don't have this thrips here. I just received 26 new varieties of fig cuttings on Monday. Try the peaches....they are so rewarding as they grow so darn fast.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:15AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Thanks a million but I have too many as well. Your plants really are magnificent. I let up on mine this year and with the thrips damage they look pretty tough. But I'll get after things next year and they'll probably bear OK.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:48AM
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Great info Bluboy. I will be visiting my sister in Houston (actually Dickinson) at christmas time and as a christmas gift, I plan on purchasing and installing some blueberry bushes at her home. I would appreciate it if you can recommend your top 3 varieties that can be purchased locally and also a nursery where I can pick them up, thanks, Chris.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 2:02PM
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"all though I wont go to that extreme. A couple peaches and figs is all I need." Do you really expect us to believe that? Frame and hang this quote. Report back in five years to tell us how you did.
By the way, very nice blueberry bushes! Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Lol, seriously, I will not have more than 2 peaches or figs! I promise,,,,,, maybe!!!! Thanks for the compliment though!

NorthG, Maas Nursery in Seabrook usually carries decent plants but they are a little pricey. You could swing by my house and buy a few of mine. I need to get rid of some anyway. As far as varieties you can't go wrong with Emerald, Sunshine Blue and Jewel for Southern High Bush. For rabbiteyes any variety will work as long as the chill hours are 400 and belowe. I've only fruited 3 rabbiteyes to date but that will change soon. Rabbiteyes are a little easier to take care of than SHB so that would probably be the way to go. If you get 3 rabbiteyes, 2 of them need to be brightwell as they are outstanding. You will need at least one other for pollination and Beckyblue or Bluegem will fit the bill.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 3:20PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Blueboy did you see the fig posting by kingwood in your area? He's sorted 30 some fig varieties down to five. If his are as good as mine were this summer you'll have trouble stopping at a few. But at least you could start with what works.

Here is a link that might be useful: Houston fig recommendations

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 3:38PM
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10-4 Fruitnut, thanks for the link. I will get in touch with Kingwood and see which of those are his favorites. Does anyone know if Kingwoods name is Clayton? I have a felling it is but not sure. If so we have spoke before.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:00PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

The Suwanee Peach Tree tends to produce better harvest in low chill and coastal areas. As with most peach trees it needs a lot of sunlight.

Blueboy this good peach for your area and get in dwarf. My tree made first fruit in April 20th this year 15 peaches planted January 2012 out pot I stake tree after leaned over first wind. Taste find as any Georgia Peach a little bit green around pit still taste good green but sweet. They make before brown rot starts. Its half size full grown tree now small inside open vase shape if do open vase shape make small 2 foot a plenty through center.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 7:05PM
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Those are some fine looking blueberry bushes. I see some good eats in your future. :)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:14AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I noticed the bark on the tops of some of the containers was fairly good size.Is that used throughout the mix?The stuff I'm using is somewhat smaller.When I pull a plant out to move up to a bigger container,it almost looks like dirt,even after a year.
I'm thinking about maybe getting a larger size mulch.At least it may be better for drainage. Brady

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 2:04AM
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That bark was actually 4x bigger when I got it cause that was all I could find at the time. I ran over it with a lawn mower and used the finer pieces up to about 3/4 inch in the potting media and the larger pieces as mulch for the pots. I like larger mulch chunks cause the water passes through it easier to the potting mix. The finer mulch once it dries, wants to shed the water to the out side of the pot the interior potting mix can get bone dry. I should also add that if I used drip I probably wouldn't have that problem. I still water by hand with a 2 gallon water can for all potted plants. The raised beds are basicly water with a soaker hose under the mulch.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Great pics blueboy! Wish I had your growing space. We're in a townhome so needless to say I have yard envy. Hey this is my 1st post to the forum, so here's my contribution... (one of our Climax bushes)

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Looks like we got another blueberry junkie;)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:04PM
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Where were you able to find the Tupi Blackberry plants...? I live southwest of Houston about 55 miles and I am looking for these...


Robert R.
Wharton, TX

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 5:15PM
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I found them at the Urban Harvest Fruit Tree Sale last spring.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Hey....thanks for the information. I have contacted Urban Harvest and they say there should be Tupi Blackberry plants available in March at their Saturday sales, so I am hoping to get a couple of them then.

I planted Natchez in 2011 and they produced like crazy in 2012...I had 4 to 5 gallons of berries on a short 15 ft. row. Problem is that they OVER PRODUCED to the point of not sending up new canes to replace the original planting. I have found out the hard way that the Natchez needs a lot of pruning in its first year of production to keep it from over producing and allow for better root establishment.

I also planted Triple Crown Blackberries in 2011....they grow like CRAZY...! Lots and lots of vines...but not a single bloom. Pretty sure we in zone 9 do not get enough CHILL hours for them to produce berries here.


Wharton, TX

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:29PM
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You should try Kiowa here in our area also. They produce like crazy!!! For the past few years all Urban Harvest would offer is Kiowa because they said its superior to other varieties for Houston. They just started offering Tupi last spring. I should get a good harvest off them this spring/summer. I let my canes get really long though. I should probably cut them back to 6ft or so. Some of the canes are over 15ft long on Tupi. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:09AM
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Thanks for the suggestion on the Kiowa. A friend of mine grows them and he is suppose to give me a few plants to try. I showed him my Natchez berries last summer when they were LOADED with berries and he was really impressed with how many berries they put on. Of course, that was before I learned that I should have pruned them and not let them over produce in their first year.

So, is Tupi a trailing blackberry that needs to be trellised..?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:19AM
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Nice pic, those look yummy!!! Tupi seems like a trialing variety. The canes are medium thickness and I dont see how they could possibly support them selves. I have a 3 wire trellis and grow a cane up to a wire, tie it and tip it. Then run two branches from each cane in seperate directions down the wire. Some reached over 15ft on some of them. In Nov I cut back the fruiting branches to 8 inches or 6 to 7 buds per branch.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Natchez blackberry vines in May 2012....

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:58AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

I tip rooted from my one Tupy got 6 new plants just now planted. Here copy paste about Tupy Blackberry plant.

Tupy Blackberry is a thorny, floricane fruiting, erect blackberry suited for the fresh market. It is particularly popular in the low-chill production areas of Mexico and should perform well in low-chill areas of the US. It has medium-large fruit, averaging 7-9 grams/berry. Flavor is somewhat similar to that of cultivars developed in Arkansas.

About my 1,000 Kiowa I planted in 2001 They are Great berry Big we harvested a lot large berries the shipping house had certified scales to weigh grams I took 2 biggest I could find largest weight was 32 grams smaller one weight was 28 grams both berries were 3 bite fruit. I stay in field as much as possible and have feast on some large berries small those 2 they where 2 bite berries.
I had 5,000 Chickasaw planted and they did have highest fruit production of any I saw In my visit to larges grower could find Double Blooms a disease flower will eat up on thorny types I'm hoping that want happen to Tupy plants this disease only in lower elevation in other words you face the North and have mountain behind you want have Double Blossom. All thorn-less types want have this disease at lower elevation.

One more father go South from zones 7a and 6b Fewer cane come up from Crown South 1 to 3 canes 7b north 5 cane on large planting up to 8 or 9 canes but only few be that many.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Here's some info on another great blackberry for LOW chill areas.....May not be available in the USA...not sure....Really would love to try growing these....

Six years of research and development have paid off for pioneering produce marketer Pure Fresh with the first harvest and successful retailing of a new, improved blackberry variety, Stella.

Stella, a medium-sized berry slightly bigger than the popular and flavourful Tupy, has a higher sugar content and longer shelf life than other varieties. The exciting new Pure Fresh blackberry also has a more cylindrical shape for a better, more durable fit in clamshell packaging, a significant benefit for retailers and consumers of the delicate fruit.

The elongated shape of the Pure Fresh Stella allows for better arrangement in the clamshell, minimizing pressure on the high-water content blackberries and preventing bursting and leaking during transit, said Roberto Castaneda Sr., the founder of Pure Fresh and its parent company, Guatemala and Mexico based grower Planesa.
We are very happy, announced Castaneda. We call the blackberry Stella because it is now the star of the Pure Fresh berry program. Stella means star in Italian.

We see a lot of future in it. It is a new and modern variety,Castaneda said.

Pure Fresh is the exclusive importer and marketer of the Stella under the Pure Fresh brand, and Planesa is the exclusive producer of the Stella in Guatemala and Central America.

The Quest for a Better-Shaped Blackberry with Improved Flavor

Planesa has been working on improving blackberry varieties since 1998 with Dr. John R. Clark at the University of Arkansas, which has one of the world's most successful blackberry variety programs, said Castaneda. Clark and Planesa introduced the commercially popular Kiowa variety to Guatemala and the high-yielding Kiowa today accounts for 90 percent of the blackberry volume out of Guatemala, one of the few countries in the world where the Kiowa has been produced successfully, said Castaneda. The Kiowa replaced the Brazos variety which was not as superior to the Kiowa.

Building on Castaneda's philosophy that new and better varieties are the key to staying ahead in the produce business, Planesa sought a blackberry even better than the Kiowa. The innovating company had seen excellent results with the Brazilian Tupy blackberry on its farms in the Mexican state of Michoacan. The international grower began growing Tupy in Guatemala and it has shown some success but yields are lower than those in Mexico. So the search began to find a new berry that would have better yields in the sub-tropical Guatemala climate.

Planesa and the University of Arkansas set up a testing agreement to evaluate several unreleased selections for possible adaptation to Guatemala, said Dr. Clark. This selection was tested by Planesa in Guatemala and found to perform well in the low-chill environment in Guatemala. It is a thornless plant, and produces large, long berries of good quality. Postharvest evaluations have indicated superior postharvest capability compared to Kiowa, a key attribute for shipping a fresh-market blackberry.


Here is a link that might be useful: News article on Stella Blackberry

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 9:35AM
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Thanks for that article. I will keep my eyes open for it in future fruit tree sales. For me Tupy doesn't seem to have as many berries as Kiowa this spring and its also a later variety for my area which will extend the season for me a little. I'm hoping its sweeter than Kiowa. Kiowa was pretty sour for me last spring but made a great cobbler. I'm about a month away from from my first Tupy berry, can't wait!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 4:13PM
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Follow up....with regards to Stella....

The article is incorrect according to Dr. Clark (Univ Ark)....the Stella is thorny and not available in USA.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 4:58PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

It rains in mexico starts this month early and rains until August they grow two crop blackberries on same plant each year by removing leaves the crop not as heavy because no chill hours. I talk to worker from mexico he said where he came from temperature stayed same year around I ask what temp he said 68 degrees I ask there no change ever he said once was 58 but never again.
Ibeen in blackberry business trying find all info I could talk with John Clark on his many February visit to South east Tuby was cat meow for many years in mexico and couldn't get plants our there because Laws, but it happen now cat meow are stella and can't get any plants well that change in future so wait I will.
A lot all this talk is marketing about stella I no.

My tupy loaded with berries and have several plants growing this year.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:59PM
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