Lawn & Garden Advice for Northwest Florida

UF is evaluating several new blueberry cultivars for Florida

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The UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy established a blueberry evaluation earlier this year. The Southern highbush cultivars in the evaluation are patented by the University of Florida and were developed by Dr. Paul Lyrene, UF professor of plant breeding and genetics. The cultivars require low chill hours and ripen very early but have not been adequately tested in north Florida. The following description of these cultivars is provided by Dr. Pete Andersen with NFREC.

Emerald is perhaps the most popular Southern highbush cultivar grown in Central and North Florida. It is vigorous and produces a high yield. Berries size is large.

Farthing is a new cultivar that appears to perform well in both south Central Florida in areas with an average chilling of only 50 hours and in North Florida. It is a squat plant with unusually dark green leaves. The bloom date of Farthing is between Emerald and Star and berry ripening is similar to Emerald and Star.

Flicker is an upright, vigorous and high yielding blueberry cultivar that may have the potential for evergreen production in very warm climates. It is deciduous in Gainesville and is reported to have a chilling requirement of about 200 hours. Berries are light blue in color and larger than Star.

Jewel may be the second most popular Southern highbush blueberry in Florida. It is often planted with Emerald for cross pollination. It produces a high yield of large, round berries.

Kestrel has distinguishing characteristics that include early ripening, an evergreen potential and excellent berry quality. Berries are large, plump, firm and aromatic.

Meadowlark has an upright growth habit. It is noted for early ripening, about 10 days before Star. Berry size is large with a good balance of acid and sugar.

Scintella was released for north central Florida but may do well in Central Florida. It is vigorous with a semi-upright growth habit. Bloom date is extremely early (late January). Berry size is very large and color, firmness and flavor are good.

Snowchaser is the earliest blueberry to ripen in North America (late March). Frost protection is required because of an early January bloom date. Berries are medium in size, light blue in color with good firmness.

Springhigh is vigorous with an upright growth habit. It ripens about 10 days before Star. Berries are very large, medium dark with good firmness and flavor.

Sweetcrisp is noted for unusually firm, crisp and sweet berries. Sweetcrisp and Bluecrisp are the best flavored Southern highbush blueberries developed thus far. Sweetcrisp plants are highly vigorous. Berries are medium to large in size and dark in color.

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County, May 5, 2012
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