My nursery (Armstrong) advertises 2 blueberry varieties that (I
assume) can be grown in this mild Mediterranean climate: Sunshine
and Bountiful Blue. $29.99 for 2 gal. Some advertised to bear next
I am a card-carrying blueberry freak, so my interest was piqued.
However, it's asking a lot to wait 'n' years for berries that might
not be to my taste.
It has taken decades for mild-weather varieties to emerge upon the
scene. What's available at Trader Joe and Co-Op is generally from
Oregon or Vancouver -- neither of which is exactly mild weather.
So, throwing myself on the mercy of this NG: Does anyone have a clue
how these two varieties taste?
Blueberries are now an important commercial crop in Ventura County, most
of which has a mild-winter climate. You might inquire at the county's
<http://portal.countyofventura.org/portal/page/portal/AgCommissioner tofind out when they are in season and which certified farmers markets
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
'Sunshine Blue' is probably the most popular blueberry variety we
carry at the nursery. In addition to being a smallish, compact plant,
it is evergreen and produces prodigious crops even at an early age.
Good for container culture. Do the berries taste as good as those
grown for commercial purposes? That's pretty much a subjective
evaluation but they ARE tasty.
FWIW, any of the Southern highbush or rabbit-eye varieities should do
well in SoCal. They tend to have lower chill requirements than other
cultivars and do well in warmer, milder winter climates.
The hardest part of growing blueberries in SoCal is not the weather
but soil conditions. A tendency towards alkaline soils and irrigation
water poses challenges for successful growing of acid lovers like
blueberries. You will need to amend soils carefully to achieve proper
growing conditions or grow in containers.
OK, I went to this helpful site. While it gives Sunshine Blue a huge
it also lists required "150 hours chilling". How do they define
IOW, what temps are meant? We don't get freezing here.
Yes, here in So.Cal we know from adobe! However, the soil in my
was amended for a long time by the previous owners, and amended by
me for many decades, so I trust it's OK. However, when I do new
or transplant, I always mix a batch of my compost, the City's compost,
worm castings, and a bit of ammonium sulfate. Seems to work OK.
I noted with wry amusement David's comment about the big problem being
I can relate! On my late plum tree, only one branch was still
bearing, so I
determined not to let THEM have the pluns. Since I was going away for
I carefully encased each plum in a small paper bag and sealed it with
a twist tie.
Hah! Squirrels/birds just laughed and ate.
Chilling hours are determined by the cumulative hours between 45F and
32F occuring typically between November and March (end of February) or
during the normal period of dormancy. Sunshine Blue has the lowest
chilling hour requirements of any blueberry cultivar and is highly
recommended for California, thriving as far south as San Diego. It is
listed to USDA zone 10, which includes all of coastal SoCal and the
Sunset Western Garden book lists it suitable for all zones.....all the
way up to 24! It is also more tolerant of 'sweeter' or less acidic
soils than most other cultivars, so that too makes it a good choice
for your area.
There are varying definitions of "chilling hours" , "chilling units",
"chilling degree hours", or "chilling accumulation". See, for example,
<http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/stonefruit/chillacc.htm by TexasA&M and <http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/chillcalc/index1.htm by UC
Furthermore, I saw a mail-order catelogue for bare-root fruit trees that
gave different definitions according to the kind of fruit (e.g., apples
vs peaches vs cherries). That is, for some fruits, "chilling hours"
involve total number of hours between 40F and 32F while, for other
fruits, it's the number of hours between 50F and 32F.
I have also seen a definition that multiplies the number of minutes by
the number of degrees below 45F (but not lower than 32F) at that time
and then divides by 60. This gives more chilling hours for an hour at
32F than for two hours at 40F. The Utah definition uses temperature
bands to simplify such computations.
Because sap contains sugars and other dissolved substances, it doesn't
freeze at 32F. Thus, some definitions have the computation extend down
to 25F or even 20F; and some definitions do not involve any minimum
temperature. Since different plants have different concentrations of
dissolved substances in their sap, this could explain why the definition
of "chilling hours" might vary for different plants.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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