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Bumper/Barren Blueberries

Posted by raymondo17 z9 Sacramento (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 23, 13 at 13:20

I have two blueberry plants in half wine barrels side by side. I've had them for several years now. This year, the Reveille is laden with fruit buds. But while it's leafing out, the O'Neal has barely a handful of fruit buds. Both were planted at the same time. Both have been watered the same, fertilized the same, etc. Why would one plant produce a bumper crop while the plant two feet away has barely a blossom?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Bumper/Barren Blueberries

Hi R....I have been studying blueberry growing for only a couple of my 3 plants does not make me an expert. Some thoughts: did the o"Neal fruit real heavy last year? (stressed out this year). Also, is your soil the same. Of course you realize acidic soil is quite important. goodluck

RE: Bumper/Barren Blueberries

O'neal is an old Southern Highbush variety... May not be getting enough chill hours in California...

I would look into one of the "Rabbit eye" varieties instead (Vaccinium ashei)... These tend to be much better in the southern end of Blueberry propagation... Typical varieties you run across are Tifblue, Powder blue, Climax, etc.


RE: Bumper/Barren Blueberries

From what Ive read about Oneal is it is a lite bearer. Just a trait of the variety. If a blueberry is water stressed in the fall when producing fruit buds it wont make as many also. Could be a combination of both? At any rate, Oneal doesnt produce a lot of fruit but the quality is supposed to be very good. Kind of a trade off??? Sweetcrisp is the same way. Some growers on this board like Sweetcrisp for that reason. Lite fruit loads means no bud thinning, less work, great fruit.

RE: Bumper/Barren Blueberries

> Some thoughts: did the o"Neal fruit real heavy last year? (stressed out this year)<

Fireduck, it had an average year of fruiting last year. The Reveille had a better crop than it did, but the comparison wasn't nearly as drastic as this year's. I believe there are just a few dozen blossoms on the entire O'Neal bush, while the Reveille is currently covered in blossoms.

>O'neal is an old Southern Highbush variety... May not be getting enough chill hours in California...<

John, oddly enough, we had an unusually cold winter this year, so if it was ever going to get enough chill hours, I would think this would be the year.

>From what Ive read about Oneal is it is a lite bearer.<

Blueboy, I should make it clear that the O'Neal has done well in the past. This is what appears to be its least productive season, despite pruning out the old wood and fertilizing as I do every year. It's just such a stark contrast between the two bushes who have received exactly the same treatment over the years.

RE: Bumper/Barren Blueberries

Could there be a pest problem? I've read there are thrips in California. I deal with them here in Houston every summer and fall and they can cause a dramatic reduction in fruit buds the following spring. If not taken care of in the fall they also can ruin spring blossoms as well. If not pests I'm not real sure. You should have been able to see all the fruit buds before flowering. Did it set a lot of fruit buds and they just aren't opening? Was there enough vigor last season or did growth slow down last season? After 3 years in a pot a good root prune and top prune can pick things back up. Anything else I'm not considering here?

RE: Bumper/Barren Blueberries

No, no pest problem that I'm aware of. I will say that both bushes seem to be stressed at the end of the season, with most of their leaves turning brown at the ends. Perhaps some hot summer days go by without enough water, but they lose those leaves in the fall and usually look great with a new set of leaves come spring.

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