New blueberries questions

kookoo2December 4, 2012

Just had three blueberry bushes planted in October - Sunshine Blue, Bountiful Blue, and Reveille. A few questions I have:

I've heard that I should not let them produce the first 1-3 years. Does that mean from when they started growing, or when they went into my ground? They were all in 5-gallon pots, and about 1 1/2 feet tall, so I assume they are already more than one year old (is this right, or even relevant?). Do I really have to wait three whole years?!

Do I remove the blossoms as soon as they appear, or the fruit when it appears?

Can I leave just a few - or will that defeat the purpose? (It's hard to give up the idea of blueberries from my own garden!)

The Sunshine Blue is blooming already, and doesn't seem like it's losing any leaves (the others have turned pretty red and are dropping leaves). It's November; is this normal for this variety? (I'm in Berkeley).

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shazaam(NC 7B)

I planted a sunshine blue this spring, and it's also holding onto quite a few leaves (mostly on new growth) while most of my others have dropped their leaves. I've never experienced fall blooming on any of my plants, but I don't think it's all that unusual in warmer areas (or so I've read). Nonetheless, I'd go ahead and remove the blossoms if I were you. If you're going to remove them, the sooner the better. The longer you leave them, the more energy the plant expends on developing them. As for when to stop pinching blossoms, I agree that three years seems like a long time to wait. I generally remove blossoms in the first year, and, if the plants look healthy, allow them to bloom and fruit in the second year.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 12:35PM
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I two Rabbit-eye trees which stands taller tham me I am 6' 3". They must be more than three years old. Are you telling me I am going to leave these two fellows stand idle for 3 years,, No way my other trees will kill me because they are working real hard for me.I have a blackberry which produced in the second year more than my family can eat. aren't these guys from the same family. The berry family.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 2:17PM
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If its nursery stock and in 5 gallon pots you would think the plants are at least 3 years old. A nursery is only going to pot up a young plant if they have too. Ive seen bunches of 2 year old blues in 1 gallon pots but have not seen a 1 year old plant in a 5 gallon pot at a nursery. Assuming thats the case your plants should at least be 2 years old. Now being 1 1/2 ft tall is odd for a 2 year old plant unless they have been prunned? Being that small I wouldnt let it fruit this coming spring unless its been prunned down to that size. If it was prunned down to that size then I would let them fruit alittle bit this coming spring but prune at least half of the fruit buds off when they start to swell in Jan. If you prune it right you will remove alot of fruit buds in the process of removing small wood, crossing branches, inward branching etc. From here on you could do your major prune after fruiting and just thin fruit buds in the winter before fruiting. Alot of SHB over produce which can cause problems with Stem Blight. Sunshine Blue is notorious for over producing. I prune mine hard in Jan and again after fruiting to keep it in check.

I have a 3 year old Sunshine and last fall it lost most of its leafs by Jan and was very red by that time. This year its holding on to alot of leafs but around 1/4 are starting to turn red. Mine is not flowering yet though so if yours is, it may retain its leafs. Dont know what the climate is like in Berkley and that can have alot to do with how these plants perform in different parts of the country. I have 18 different varieties of SHB and all of them alittle different then the next when it comes to fall color, leaf retention, fall flowering etc.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:36PM
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You are right - they are taller than 1 1/2 feet. More like 2 or 2 1/2 feet.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:54PM
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Your plant is at least 2 years old, probably 3. You don't have to wait. In the bay area I see a lot of Four Winds and Monrovia blueberry plants around, and the Monrovias are usually a year up it seems on the competition, always thicker canes and setting lots of fruit/blossoms on them, during the warmer months at least. Sunshine blue does over set, as I've seen on mine and my friends plants, would pinch blossoms for sure if there are hundreds of them. If it's just a few, no biggie...

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:57PM
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