Early blueberry - O' Neal or Misty?

Hey all,
I have one plot left for an in-ground blueberry, and I’m looking for an early season Southern Highbush variety (I already have Jewell, Jubilee, Bountiful Blue and Sunshine Blue from June - July). All things being equal, I’d prefer the earlier harvest, but of course all things are not equal.

Considerations are: how much harvest I get, how durable it is, how finicky it is re: ph, how tasty it is, etc. I’m in 9b, thoughts on whether I should grow the O’ Neal or Misty, or perhaps another early harvest option?


I have always been happy with ONeal, haven’t tasted fruit from a Misty before. I just got another ONeal.


Are STAR or Emerald or some of those options?

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I heard a lot of good things about Star, but I think it bears later than Misty or O’Neal. Haven’t heard of Emerald at all but it seems pretty awesome (I’m reading that it bears the largest fruit), but I’m reading contradictory info re: harvest date. Any thoughts on when it harvests relative to others?


I don’t have that memorized…see if you can find blueberry trials in a search of blueberries and the University of Florida. Are you in FL or some other zone 9? I’ve seen nice blueberries in Ocala and other places in FL.

Star is recommended for the Gainesville Tallahassee to Valdosta, etc. But there are a number more recent inventions.

Sunshine Blue does ok here in Kentucky. I just bought one Emerald last fall to try…but I doubt it does good here.


Yup, I’m inland in the SF Bay Area, 9b. I have a Sunshine Blue and Bountiful Blue, both are doing great.

Sounds good! I have no idea if Star or Emerald are good in your area, sorry.

Quick update… I decided on the O’ Neal. It ain’t evergreen like the Misty, but by most indications the harvest is earlier.


It’s a much better tasting blueberry in our environment. It took a few years to get established before bearing a significant amount but it was really worth the wait.


Snow chaser is probably the earliest southern highbush I grow in southern California, followed by south moon. I’d also argue those two are my best tasting blueberries, but South Moon dies every other year for me for unknown reasons, while my 6-7 other varieties have been thriving for a few years.

O’Neil has been a scant producer for me.

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My mind is blown. I did not know there was such a thing as evergreen blueberries. Do they stay evergreen only in warmer climates? Has anyone had them stay evergreen in the puget sound area? My blueberries are all old unknow varieties. They were planted in 1980 way before I lived here and are woody hedgerows now. I would love to add an evergreen blueberry to my grove. Yikes I am so excited.

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None of them are evergreen in zone 6 to my experience. But Misty, Sunshine Blue, and several southern highbush probably are evergreen/simievergreen (red or blueish, not literally “green”) in zone 8 and certainly in 9 in many cases.

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Down here in coastal-influenced San Diego county, a portion of the O’Neil leaves take on a Fall appearance on schedule regardless of temperature. When overnight temps drop below 50°F for a few hours or more, all the leaves turn color a begin dropping. At my location the winter lows rarely go below 40°F, and then only for an hour or two into the upper 30°s. At present (Feb. 1st) the O’Neil is bare but with bud swell.

We have two O’Neal and two Sunshine Blue in a long bed on the east side of our house. The Sunshines have blueish-green leaves that are nearly evergreen here. Last week after the “big” storm left town and the skies cleared we hit 38°F and 40°F several early mornings in a row. The Sunshines Blue leaves on the upper third of the plants now have a purple hue but as usual for Feb. the blossom buds are popping open and showing pink.


Hi everyone, we want to plant some O’Neal and I’m wondering if any of the varieties we already have will pollinate. We have Climax, Ochlockonee, Powder Blue, and Premier.

If not, do you know what pollinates O’Neal in addition to Star?



Rabbiteyes,like those first mentioned,aren’t the best cross pollinators for O’Neal.Any Southern Highbush,that blooms at the same time should work.

SHB don’t do well in some portions of Piedmont, NC (like mine) even with large amounts of pine fines, peat moss and drip. We have O’Neil, Starr, Emerald and Legacy. 4 SHB don’t produce as much fruit as 1 Rabbiteye and frost is a problem on the SHB in most years.

Much higher bedded rows and overhead irrigation could help but our 300 SHB which are now in year 12 have never done as well as we expected.

New Hanover is popular is some portions of the midwest not known for growing Blueberries and may be worth a trial. Starr, O’Neil, Legacy and Emerald all overlap in bloom time. I don’t believe the RE will provide much cross pollination for the SHB.

Thank you for the very helpful information. Maybe I’ll just skip the SHB. Our eight rabbiteye will already produce more berries than our family can eat and there is no need to be greedy by trying to get blueberries a few weeks earlier. (After all, we already have strawberries and raspberries and will soon also have mulberries, lol).

May be worthwhile to test a few SHB on your land. They did not do well for us but they do better closer to the coast and also closer to the foothills. We thought we did everything right but they did not like our location. Bill Cline from NCSU did not seem surprised to see the lack of vigor on our SHB compared to our RE.

We were excited about the prospects of our SHB at first as our Legacy plants grew almost as well as a RE. We lost our enthusiasm after 5 or 6 years. .

Our SHB were planted on raised beds made with disk hillers on our best soil. Unfortunately, probably not high enough. They also need to be sheared and fertilized hard after harvest to force more fruiting wood for next year. Can’t prune the SHB the same way we prune our RE.

One big advantage is that SHB have smaller seeds than RE. The skins on the frozen fruit also seem to be more tender.

All I can say is that I’ve tasted O’Neal, and it is delicious.