Chill requirements for blueberries - Knowledgebase Question

Panama City, Fl
Question by jperry2
January 28, 2009
I recently purchased Blue Crop Blueberry plants. I live in zone 8B, and am concerned about the chill requirement for these berries. The package states they are good to zone 9, but I do not see this cultivar listed in the extension office as working in our climate. Should I return the plants, and if I do plant them, how long before they produce berries?


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Answer from NGA
January 28, 2009

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Two types of blueberries grow well in Florida, rabbiteye (Vaccinium ashei) and southern highbush (interspecific hybrids of V. darrowi, V. ashei and V. corymbosum). However, only the low-chill cultivars of each are adapted to Florida. Generally, rabbiteye blueberries grow well in areas of Florida that have winters as cold, or colder, than Ocala. The southern highbush cultivars that are commonly grown in Florida are well adapted to areas south of Ocala and north of Sebring, although they will grow reasonably well in Alachua County. Bluecrop blueberries are highbush blueberries and will grow in zones 5-9, which includes your zone 8B.

The University of Florida recommends the following highbush blueberry cultivars due to their low-chill requirements:
'Emerald', 'Gulf Coast', 'Jewel', 'Millennia', Sharpblue', 'Star' and 'Windsor'.

Rabbiteye cultivars include 'Beckyblue', 'Bonita' and 'Climax'.

Bluecrop is widely grown, but may not perform as well as those recommended by the university. It generally takes about 3 years for blueberry plants to produce abundant crops.

Best wishes with your new blueberry plants!

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