Chill Hours Tracker for Rabbiteye Varieties: Houston, TX

sun-junkie(9)December 12, 2012

Hi Folks,
Thought I'd share my low-tech Chill Tracker. The datasource is (specifically Station 7 at Air Liquide in the Heights). The chart counts hours in which the temp ranges from 32-45 F. I'll be updating this post as winter progresses.

This post was edited by sun-junkie on Tue, Jan 1, 13 at 14:06

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Background: Usually by this time of year (mid December) my bushes are quite red. Still full green at the moment, while my hair is going gray! Fingers crossed we get enough cool temps for good yields.

This post was edited by sun-junkie on Thu, Dec 13, 12 at 13:57

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 11:30PM
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A chart like that is a good idea. I am putting up a weather station at my place in the country like the one they use. I can download everything to my computer and keep track of the temperatures. I can then chart the amount of chill hours I get there.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Very nice Sunjunkie, what part of Houston are you in and what varieties do you have? My Rabbiteyes are mostly still green as well except for Austin which is turning color just a little! Right now I have Woodard, Brightwell, Beckyblue, Bluegem, Alapaha and Austin. Last season I only fruited Becky, bright well and Woodard. BrIghtwell stole the show for taste. How long have you been growing Rabbiteyes here? Do you grow any Southern High Bush? I'm in Seabrook and got a yard full of blueberry plants!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Scratch the question about what varieties you grow as you stated that in your post. Thats quite a collection you got there. How old are they?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 3:00PM
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Hey Blue, we're near the Heights. Growing 2 Climax and 2 Brightwell (for now). Planted them in Spring '09. They were 2 y/o then so they're coming up on 5 years now. I made the mistake of planting 4 bushes in a raised 4' x 14' bed. Need to find a new home two and give the others the room they deserve. They're 100% organic. I feed MicroLife 2x per year, Super Seaweed or MaxiCrop for Fe, and maintain ph by replacing the top layer of sphagnum peat yearly. -That's a must when watering w/ Houston tap I've learned.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 4:26PM
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We got about a gallon this year, roughly 1 quart from each bush. The Climax were large, juicy, and very sweet. Pretty uniformed in size, almost commercial looking. The Brightwell were smaller mostly w/ a few giants. The flavor varied from sweet to tart, maybe due to the longer ripening season.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 4:32PM
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Right on, I use Micro life fert also exclusively. I always check my ph in the spring and if it's a little above 5, I will use micro life azalea and belowe 5 ph just regular micro life. I fert in Feb, July and sept but will probably cut out the sept feeding for the Rabbiteyes. They are already tall enough and last summer I had to cut them back at least 2-3 ft after harvest so I could reach them this spring. So far I've been able to grow all them organically but it is a struggle, especially with the Southern High Bush. Spinosad has some what controlled my thrip problems but it just about got out of control last August. Eventually I may have to use some kinda chemical pesticide to control them. I think they are becoming immune to spinosad in my yard. I just received my order of Surround (kaolin Clay) in the mail and will try that this next year. What kind of soil mix did you use for your raised beds? Do you use sulfer at all?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:32AM
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I used 50/50 peat & composted organic veg soil from Living Earth. Used to mulch w/ cedar till I learned not to. Now I use aged hardwood. (Pine needles get everywhere). Haven't had trip yet thankfully. Some fungal rust issues one year but the pecan tree which was overhead has since been removed. Tried amending soil w/ sulfur once when I saw signs of chlorosis. It's slow to activate though so I just roll w/ fresh Peat. They like their seaweed and bioform sprays too once in a while. It's been a school of hard knocks but we're seeing good results now. Can't wait to have a bigger yard!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 11:34PM
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Happy New Year gardeners! 150 hours to go for our Brightwell bushes and 200 hours away from hitting our Climax variety's quota for the Houston area. I'm inclined to start growing Woodard bushes based on this data.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 2:14PM
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In the Heights area you probably average 500-600 chill hours I bet. You can grow any Rabbiteyes you want, get crazy with it man!!!!!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:31AM
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My Rabbiteye got more than enough chill hours in the cold north here I am bring then inside. Although we did have that frosty busty shrinking bones weather so far. The weather people are predicting 45 the rest of the week.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 3:14AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

But don't get them too warm Abe,unless the heat can be maintained until it naturally gets hotter. Brady

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 3:31AM
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Can you guide me to how you are gathering the hours? I have checked the website, and see the collection center closest to me, but how do I search for the collective hours?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 1:24AM
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Hi FortAngela,
All the data is within the 'local weather' tab. Select 'monthly' to determine which days meet the criteria of Unfortunately we don't have an established site to use for TX like those provided by major universities in CA, IL, AL, FL, etc.... C'mon Aggies! Let's see something kewl besides those maroon carrots!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 6:02PM
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I live near the Air Liquide site. Where can I buy Woodard Rabbiteyes? Wabash has only Tifblue, Bightwell and Climax. Buchanan's has only Tifblue and Climax. I purchased a Climax and a Tifblue may years ago. One died -- I'm not sure which. The survivor is about 7 feet tall. Which variety would make a good pollenator?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:23PM
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If you want to order Rabbiteyes, Just Fruits and Exotics in florida has the most varieties that I've found on line. I have Woodard and haven't been very impressed with the berries at all. Maybe they get better with age? I hope that's the case. If it doesn't get better fruit this year its gone. If I were you I would get Brightwell. Its hands down the best Rabbiteye in my collection. I live in Seabrook just south of Houston and the plant grows and fruits great in this area. The only problem I had with brightwell is leaf fungus if spring is really wet like last spring and the berries will split when ripening if it rains really hard. The cool thing about brightwell is the berries are sweet as soon as they turn blue so if it's going to rain you can pick them with a little red on there back and they are still great. Last spring I fruited Brightwell, Beckyblue and Woodard. Bright well stole the show and my family liked them better than my Southern High Bush. This year I will fruit the same ones along with Blue Gem, Alapaha and Austin. I will report my results but I'm willing to bet that Brightwell will again steal the show.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 2:04PM
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Maas nursery in Seabrook usually carries quit a few varieties also so you may want to check with them.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 2:06PM
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