Need a couple blueberry recommendations for Z9a southeast GA

Moved to southeast Georgia Z9a, from Z5 northern NY, in fall 2016. Up north we grew mostly in containers, due to wet property. The ground water was also alkaline, which would have made it hard to grow blueberries, so containers were a good option there too. So fast forward, we now have sandy soil, and due to the large concentration of oaks and pines, we have acidic soil(sand.) Had a soil test done last year, and can’t remember off hand how acidic, but now I’m thinking blueberries might do well here in the ground. I’m missing my nice northern high bush varieties, are there some good southern varieties? Would be grateful if anyone can make a couple of suggestions. The local stores are just getting in their stock now. Thanks.

They have a large range of varieties for FL and Georgia. That’s due to the differences in chilling and spring freeze damage. The low chill types needed in central FL bloom too early in GA. If you can grow it Sweetcrisp is the highest quality variety I’ve grown. GA has developed their own cultivars. You should be able to google information on those.

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Blueberries were the first fruiting plants I started out with before I had any clue what I was doing…At one point I had somewhere around 15 to 20 bushes (various types), but none of them did very well…Here were a few I’ve tried, Becky Blue, Emerald, Tifblue, Windsor and powder blue…unfortunately, this was back before I kept good records, so I 'm not sure which are which any more and I’m down to maybe 10 bushes total. The ones that I have had luck with are the native blueberry, called Darrow…they are really tiny but flavorful and don’t seem to attract the birds like the other ones do.

Personally, I recommend the rabbit eye varieties. The old stand by varieties, Tiff Blue and Powder Blue seem to do the best for me of the named varieties. My healthiest, most productive plants started out as seedlings growing in the wild. They are as big and amost as sweet as the named varieties, but they do sucker a lot. God bless.


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In California, zone 9a my best are, Oneal for early season, Sweetcrisp, Southmoon and Pearl for midseason and Legacy for lateseason. Of those standouts, Sweetcrisp is the best.

If you are zone 9a you will probably be told to grow the Highbush cultivars by your extension office, but Highbush blueberry can be very finicky and have more disease problems than the Rabbiteye cultivars. Zone 9a is fine for Rabbiteye, but with climate change will zone 9a become zone 10 in a few years (zone 10 is too warm for Rabbiteye)? Tiffblue is my favorite but its patent ran out so they are telling you to plant Powder Blue as a replacement for Tiffblue…saying that Tiffblue fruit will split with too much rain (I’ve never had a single Tiffblue berry split). Climax, Austin, and Powder Blue also have great yields and great tasting berries in my zone 9a garden. Plant several cultivars for pollination.
If you decide blueberries are too much trouble…I highly recommend Botanical_Bryce’s dwarf mulberry plants. My 8 foot plant is so loaded down with huge mulberries it looks unreal.

Any of the rabbit eyes should do well for you and are relatively low care. They’re not as fussy as the northern and southern high bush seem to be.
Bottoms Nursery in Concord GA has a large selection of rabbit eyes good for Georgia.

In the description of each variety, they say how many chilling hours are required for each one. You can check with your local extension office if you’re unsure of you’re chilling hours.

I’m in complete agreement that rabbiteye are easier to grow than southern highbush blueberries but they ripen about 3 weeks later. Also they have tougher skins and larger seeds.

Blueberry production in Georgia has gone crazy in the last 20 years and so has the introduction of new varieties from UGA - both rabbiteye and SHB. I expect some of the newer varieties are better than the old standbys developed in the 80s and 90s, but I don’t have experience growing any of them.

Of the old standbys, in my 7B climate - Tiffblue (UGA) is better than Powderblue (NCSU) for mid season rabbiteye but Premier (NCSU) beats Climax (UGA) for early season rabbiteye.

Emerald, Starr and O’neil are excellent SHB and should do well in your climate. I prefer the taste of Emerald. O’neil seems to be one of the more difficult to grow.

Here are several of the more current varieties from UGA:

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Thanks everyone for your comments. Yea, before we get fancy, will stick to a couple of the old faithful rabbiteye varieties sold locally. Let’s see how they do first. Already planning on fighting the birds :-/

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Plant a mulberry tree. I rarely see a bird in my blueberry patch…I feel it is because they prefer eating my mulberries instead.

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