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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Garden season retrospective. Part 7 of N... blueberry in alkaline soil

Some folk who have alkaline soils (7.5-8.5) and want blueberry have little to no success and go to pots. Did I try, yep, was dead clorotic plant next year.
What am I going to do now? Do not buy homedepot stuff, because it turns out there is more than one type and some types simply never will do here in my high mountain desert... meaning no one plants here oranges in open ground :), but plenty in Florida.

Also homedepot blueberry... what the variety are they... and will they grow... Bottom line is it depends, big time. Now to the types.

First of all there are multiple types of blueberry.

Northern highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are native to much of the eastern and
northeastern United States, from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The plants grow
5 to 9 feet tall. One named selection from the wild ‘Rubel’, was introduced in the early 1920s. Many
commercial northern highbush cultivars have been developed through traditional breeding programs.

Southern Highbush Blueberries Southern highbush blueberries are complex
hybrids of  V. corymbosum and a native, evergreen Florida species (V. darrowii). The plants grow about 6 to 8 feet tall. In mild production regions, southern highbush blueberries can be grown in an evergreen system, in which the plants retain old leaves through the winter to advance the spring fruit crop. This type was developed to allow blueberry production in low-chill areas (regions with mild winters, such as Florida and California). A dormant blueberry plant requires a certain amount of chilling (between approximately 32°F and 45°F) to break bud and flower normally. Southern highbush blueberries have a much lower chilling requirement (200 to 300 hours) than northern highbush blueberries (more than 800 hours). Southern highbush blueberries will grow in the
Pacific Northwest but have low yields. Bushes bloom in late winter, and flowers are frequently damaged by frost. Southern highbush blueberry cultivars for the Pacific Northwest are not recommended. Some hybrid cultivars, such as ‘Legacy’ and ‘Ozarkblue’, can be grown successfully west of the Cascades; how ever, cold damage to flower buds has been observed in these cultivars when temperatures drop below approximately 0°F to 5°F.

Rabbiteye BlueberriesRabbiteye blueberries (V. virgatum syn. V. ashei) are native to the southeastern United States. The plants grow from 6 to 10 feet tall. Rabbiteye cultivars were developed in regions with long, hot summers, and they behave differently in the Pacific Northwest than in their home environments. In this region, the plants tend to be smaller, and the fruit ripens very late in summer and fall. In some cool summer environments, such as the Pacific Coast and northwest Washington, there often is not enough heat to fully ripen the fruit. Rabbiteye blueberries are more sensitive to winter cold than northern highbush blueberries. Although we have not seen much cold damage on rabbiteyes grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, cold damage to flower buds and late-season growth has been observed when temperatures drop below approximately 0°F to 5°F. We do not recommend this type of blueberry for production east of the Cascades or in northern Washington.
Though newer cultivars have fruit quality similar to that of highbush types, many older rabbiteye
cultivars have darker blue fruit with more noticeable seeds, thicker skins, and noticeable grit or stone cells (as found in pears).

Lowbush Blueberries Lowbush blueberries (V. angustifolium) are native from Minnesota to Virginia and to the northeastern United States and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The plants are low-growing shrubs that spread by underground stems; they seldom grow taller than 1.5 feet. A few cultivars, such as ‘Blomidon’, ‘Burgundy’, and ‘Brunswick’, have been named, but
the lowbush blueberry industry depends on managing wild stands made up of hundreds or thousands of clones per acre. Plant more than one cultivar for good fruit production. In general, lowbush types need little pruning, but cut plants back to the ground every 2 to 3 years if they get too shrubby.

Half-High Blueberries
Half-high blueberries are the result of crosses  between northern highbush and lowbush blueberries.
These cultivars will tolerate -35°F to -45°F. The plants grow from 3 to 4 feet tall, and most of the fruiting area is protected below the snow line. Half-high blueberries are suitable for commercial production where other types of blueberry are not hardy. They are also used as attractive landscape plants and are suited to container production. In the landscape, they do not need to be pruned as severely or as regularly as highbush types.

So how far from pacific and acidic soils one can get? Does midwest Rock mountain desert sound far?

Here is a very useful video regarding how-to's from Bouledr county CSU extension

And another one from Jefferson county CO

The root stock comes usually from Oregin, so these would be one of high bush cultivars.
Lowbush would do as well. Southern high bush - that's a no (because of oranges :) ).

One of beneficial spots is near your pine trees. And do not toss those pine needles, Make a beneficial guild.

also there are some blueberry cultivars that do in ph7.
In BTE (Back to Eden garden) setting blueberry can grow next to pines.

When BTE is established and the soil is doing what it supposed to do blueberry can grow.

How to propagate them

Northern high bush cultivars (Oregon) : (in order of ripening):
‘Duke’, ‘Earliblue’, ‘Spartan’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Blue‑crop’, ‘Jersey’, ‘Blueray’, ‘Legacy’, ‘Chandler’,
and ‘Elliott’.

Vigorous, spreading
Berry: Medium size, dark blue, soft, thin skin, resists cracking, medium to large scar, excellent sweet 
flavor, fruit hang well 
BTE setting does mention this cultivar, growing at ph7.

Full list of  Oregon cultivars from Oregon Stage SCU

Ssouthern highbush cultivars (e.g., O’Neal, Star, Jewel, San Joaquin, Emerald, Santa Fe, Misty, Carteret, Pamlico) These are pacific south east only. They do not do well in Oregon and not recommended there. They will end up dead anuals as well in midwest, so containers only and indoors in winter.

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