University of Maryland Extension

Southern Variety Blueberries

Three southern varieties of blueberries are being trialed at WyeREC. Southern varieties including hybrids of Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush tend to need less irrigation, tolerate warmer temperatures and may be an ideal crop when considering weather related changes with hotter, drier summers predicted to be the norm for the Mid-Atlantic region. At WyeREC, bushes were planted in September of 2015.

For all varieties, soil was amended with leaf compost to approximately 6% OM and adjusted to a pH of 5. In 2017, and 2018 plants were given ammonium sulfate.

For more information about blueberry culture go to

https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/43412/PDF/1

 

Varieties

Sweetheart

A new Northern/Southern Highbush hybrid, this self-pollinating variety offers two yields, a heavy late spring and a light late summer harvest. Mature bushes are said to offer over 15 lb of large and sweet berries. At WyeREC, fruit has only had a spring crop.

Zone Range

4 – 8

Ripens/Harvest

Heavy first crop late May to early June, lighter second crop August

Years to Bear

2 - 3

Soil Composition

Loamy

Soil Moisture

Well Drained

Soil pH Level

4.5 - 5.5

O'Neal

A Southern Highbush variety, this plant has one of the best tasting berries of the Southern Highbush varieties. Ripens in mid-summer.  If pollinated with other Southern Highbush varieties, larger yields are expected.

Zone Range

5 - 9

Ripens/Harvest

mid-June to early July

Years to Bear

2 - 3

Soil Composition

Loamy

Soil Moisture

Well Drained

Soil pH Level

4.5 - 5.5

Brightwell

A hybrid variety of the Rabbiteye blueberry, the Brightwell plant is known for its hardiness. Has resistance to disease and insects, and grows to its full height in 7-8 years at 10-12 feet tall.

Zone Range

7 - 9

Brightwell is subject to over-cropping and return bloom reduced if the bushes are not given good post-harvest care and management. Septoria and Gleosporium leaf spot diseases can be a problem on some sites and postharvest fungicide applications may be necessary to aid in leaf retention. 

 

Ripens/Harvest

mid-June to early July

Years to Bear

2 - 3

Soil Composition

Loamy

Soil Moisture

Well Drained

Soil pH Level

4.5 - 5.5

Figure 1. Second season, first bearing, Sweetheart yields started June 2nd and ended June 15th totaling an average of 20.6 oz per plant.  O’Neal yields started June 27th and ended July 26th totaling an average of 9.4 oz per plant. Brightwell yields started June 27th and ended July 26th totaling an average of 4.3 oz per plant.

Figure 2. Second season, Sweetheart yields started June 2nd and ended June 15th totaling an average of 20.6 oz per plant.  O’Neal yields started June 27th and ended July 26th totaling an average of 9.4 oz per plant. Brightwell yields started June 27th and ended July 26th totaling an average of 4.3 oz per plant.

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