Which Blueberries to grow in zone 7a-7b

Hello,

New to the forum. I live in Richmond VA. I am looking for the absolute easiest and sweetest Blueberry to grow. Im not looking for complexity or a balanced taste. Just ease of growth and sweetness, large berries a very big bonus. As its my 1st go at Blueberries I want to start out successful and not with much fussy plants or trouble. Like my fig tree was a Chicago Cold Hardy no problems at all. Larger harvests each year.

It sounds Crazy but my favorite Blueberry came from food lion it was not firm at all and each one was really sweet and taste tasted like a jam and had the texture of jam with zero tartness. From all my research I assumed this to be Toro so that’s one pick, and by default my partner would like a pink lemonade Varity unsure of which one however.

I plan on getting 3-5 Bushes to start. If you good folk would be so kind to guide me in the correct direction it would be great.

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I planted Toro for a neighbor. But, they’ve not shared the fruit.

Anything will work in Virginia except those developed for zones 9 and 10 in the deep south, such as Emerald, Biloxi, Star.

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I would highly suggest unless you want to go through a lot of hoops, stick to rabbiteye varieties. I believe Pink Lemonade is rabbiteye, but I’ve never had good luck with it. Any others have performed very well for me. The best are Climax, Premier and Tifblue that I got at a local blueberry farm as decently large plants.

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The sweetest Rabbiteye I had was Yadkin.Legacy,which is probably part Rabbiteye,may also work.bb

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They get sweeter after spending time in the fridge too, my cat loves them as a treat but only if they have spent a couple weeks in the fridge.

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What kind of hoops? Fertilization needs? how are the sweetness on Climax, Premier and Tifblue
Any clue why the PL didn’t work?

Going in store I never see what variety im getting so I don’t know what I tried. But what others have you tried to compare to Yadkin and legacy? Are Rabbit Eye in general not sweet as some of the highbush?

Where are yall located?
I assume so too but some do require more care as far as more fertilization if im not mistaken I know will do Bluecrop its listed for beginners

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I grow or have grown about 30 combined varieties of Northern,Southern and Rabbiteye.
I like the NHB for flavor.SHB are mostly sweet to me,with Sweetcrisp the highest in sugar.Yes,most Rabbiteye are bland to me,Yadkin being the exception.I’ve read that Brightwell is a good one also.bb

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Would the honey crisp survive the odd colder than usual winter that happens here every once in a while? Im going to throw this in the mix if so

From Charlotte to Columbia to Savannah to Atlanta to Montgomery to Jackson and to Little Rock, I do believe Rabbiteye will do better than either northern or sourthern highbush. But, once you have one of those 20 below zero winters, the highbush may be alive an the rabbiteye not.
(And I don’t know what Richmond VA area all-time low is, perhaps in the negative 20 range.)

I have picked rabbiteyes in the Marion/Rutherfordton area of North Carolina, and Gastonia/Charlotte area. I have also planted northern highbush in Charlotte, and they need more irrigation to survive the hot dry summers than the rabbiteye. I only grow a couple plants of Rabbiteye in Kentucky.

But, you asked if in general the rabbiteye are less tasty. I have done most of my blueberry growing in zone 6 rather than 7,8 and 9–so my side-by-side comparison of rabbiteye and hibhbush are few. The rabbiteye are hardier in the cities I mentioned, and will do well. Farther north in zone 6 or farther south into zone 8b and 9, rabbiteye are not going to do as well as the southern highbush in my view…and in general the rabbiteye are not as delicious in the same way muscadine grapes are not as delicious…but some people would dispute both of those assertions. (Rabbiteye will also eventually get 8 feet tall.)

So, I second what Bradybb said just a bit ago, I prefer N Highbush. And I do have a Brightwell rabbiteye that I like. If I were in South Carolina (except for the NW corner of the state) I would find the rabbiteyes easier to succeed with, even if not quite as flavorful.

In zone 6 Kentucky the NHB do fine and taste fine. As to certain varieties, Bluecrop has been the mid-season standard for U-Pick it seems. Part of this is that the total crop in poundage is high, and the picking is extended so they’re not all gone in a week and you come back and pick more. I would consider them a bit sour, but some would call that ‘flavorful’.

Patriot is one that has good flavor and plenty of cold hardiness, but I’ve not tried to grow it south of zone6. I find Blueray and Sunshine Blue to work well, but there are 60+ to choose from, and like apples, not everybody is going to have the same variety be their ‘favorite’!

DiMeo in Maryland or New Jersey, offers a huge number of varieties of Norther High Bush for sale. I also recommend Burnt Ridge Nursery in Washington State for blueberry plants. I believe there is a blueberry nursery or two in eastern NC, but I’ve not dealt with them…they probably have Rabbiteye plants mostly.

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I’m located in 7b Alabama. Last year Climax was my sweetest tasting but you have to let them hang on the bush about a week or two after they darken. I covered them with a bird block and waited until they were ready. Climax will ripen most of its fruit simultaneously. My Pink Lemonade is good tasting but not the best and it has been a little erratic fruiting. My grands like it so it will always have a home.

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Blueberries – Georgia's Integrated Cultivar Release System has Georgia releases of rabbiteye types. Titan, Vernon, and Krewer come closest to the size you requested. Isons nursery sells them at a fairly reasonable price. As others have said, you have the option of growing some of the northern highbush varieties. I donțt know enough about NHB to give a recommendation.

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Im in Virginia, and I really am going to consider what they have said here today. I have already looked at some.

Maybe this is the case because it is in the proper zone creating better conditions and creating a better result? Maybe some of the recommended wouldn’t perform very well in your area not giving you the best fruit? what else are you growing?

Rabbiteyes are winners, hands-down here, just north of the TN line. Easily 10X more productive than the NHBs we had for the first 10 yrs or so here. No winter-kill, though the polar vortex deal back around 2014 killed all blooms…total crop on about 30 plants was 6 berries.
Don’t have a single NHB here anymore, and wont plant any - though they’re all the UKy extendion folks recommend
SHBs have been less than impressive, but they’re in a less hospitable spot, soilwise.
Long ago lost all IDs, so I couldn’t tell you which is which…have all the old standard REs…Climax, Delight, Woodard, Premier, etc., plus Brightwell and other newer ones whose variety names I’ve forgotten.

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@juice
I’m currently growing.
Rabbit Eye
Climax: My favorite
Pink Lemonade
Tifblue: Mostly used as rootstock. Anyone grafting blueberries? Why?

Southern Highbush
Primadonna: Low vigor
Millennia: My best SH
Star: Low vigor
Oneal: Low vigor (great grafted onto Tifblue) Anyone grafting blueberries? Why?

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Sweetcrisp?The patent states the plant will survive to 5F.This one may be a bit difficult to find and I recommend not purchasing from Florida Hill Nursery.bb

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For me, the SHB I planted were in Texas and here in NC, they just require more soil prep to make things very acidic, or growing in large containers/raised beds. Rabbiteye grow easily with no soil prep pretty much, have high vigor, and easily ripen.

Many people say northern/southern varieties have better flavor, and while they are more sour (more potential flavor balance for western palette) rabbiteye can have good flavor as well and be quite sweet, the issue is just that you must let rabbiteye hang on the plant several days to about a week after turning blue to the eye before picking.

I’ve had 2 Pink Lemonade plants, one Texas, one here, for whatever reason they just seemed to lose vigor and get some kind of lesions and not grow back from the roots. They also would produce all of 3 berries each year when they weren’t trying to die on me.

In the end, though other blueberries might be better flavor to some, vigor, production amount, and soil prep have steered me away. I have a clay-based soil in both locations, so keep that in mind, it could be that you have an ideal soil for SHB or NHB blueberries.

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I’m in 7b. I pulled all my rabbiteyes (including Climax) years ago, as they just didn’t have enough flavor for me. Tasted like store-bought berries. I now have only highbush, and the very best are O’Neal and Blueray, with the jury still out on Southern Sweetcrisp (definitely tasty but slow growing for me so far).

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