best blueberry variety for northern Cali?

yowza(7b, way northern California)April 2, 2014

I'm trying to decide on a blueberry variety for my area. It gets cold in the winter (single digits) and hot and dry in the summer (triple digits)! I'm in zone 7b-ish, right near the border with Oregon in the Siskiyou Mountain area. My main criteria are:

*the plant must survive!
*really good flavor (not sour, not mealy like grocery store berries)
*berry size (just because teeny ones are a pain to pick)

Are there other factors I should care about? I read about the size and wetness or dryness of the picking scar, but for home production that doesn't concern me much. I've been referring to Oregon State's "Blueberry Cultivars for the Pacific Northwest" document. I've also been reading forums on GardenWeb but I'm confounded by the fact that much of the advice is from folks in very different climates than mine.

I thought Olympia, Blueray, and Berkeley sounded good. Anyone have any experience with these and/or other suggestions? Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon State's Blueberry Cultivars for the Pacific Northwest

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I went to a talk by Buzz Bertolero and he suggested many varieties but talked up Berkeley, late but prolific producer, and Spartan, early and prolific. He spoke regarding my area (zone 9) but I notice Berkeley is high chill. I really want to add blueberries but just haven't bought one. He said they are beautiful all year--great autumn color and easily grown, abundant fruit producers.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:01PM
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elysianfields(9b CA)

I had a blueberry that scarcely produced which I figured was from low sun and evening chill from cold canyon air. But I was advised I needed two plants for pollinating. Though some varieties are self pollinating I understand. My Italian greyhound ate whatever the bush put out anyway before I could get to it. I don't recall the genus. What doesn't work in my garden goes in somebody else's.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 2:25AM
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Maggie M.(z7 Sunset7 CA Sierra Foothills)

The Master Gardeners at Fair Oaks have been growing and tasting blueberries for awhile now and created a PDF of their recommendations (at the very end, asterisks indicate flavor). You do want Southern Highbush if you have hot summers. After hearing them talk to our Calaveras group, I'd planned to try it although at this point I've decided no new plants this year as the drought could still be pretty nasty- I'm going to hold off on new items until next year.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC Sac PDF on Growing Blueberries

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 1:00AM
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I think you would still want to grow the SHB varieties, but check locally with a qualified nurseryman if you can. That's what I grow down here and enjoy them all! My favorite overall is 'Sunshine Blue'. You will want to plant a couple of different varieties for better pollination. Here's 'Emerald' ripening up some berries right now:

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 8:15AM
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