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Author Topic: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.  (Read 14422 times)

Viking Guy

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The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« on: April 18, 2015, 06:03:19 PM »
Per the other blueberry discussion threads we've had, I have determined to begin a write up on a one of a kind highbush blueberry that grows prolifically in the deep south, and does so with very dense, and tall trunks.

I will consolidate the primary details here and update the thread accordingly during a full season from flowering to fruition.  Meanwhile, I will be air layering some branches to begin the propagation process.

Those who may not yet know, this variety was a southern private family-grown heirloom for a couple centuries and never released to the public.  This is the only known one remaining in existence, and it is our collective goal here to remedy that.

As time progresses, I will monitor every detail of this blueberry, and those who are interested, I'll be making new plants available.  In addition, we will come up with a common name for us to use in the trade.



LATEST UPDATE VERSION:  20161213

Hardiness Growing Zones & Participants in the Blueberry "Tree" Project:

Many growing zone slots available.  Looking for more interested in trying this out.

1a
1b
2a
2b
3a
3b
4a
4b
5a
5b
6a
6b
7a
7b

8a:  Droshi
8b:  Isaac-1
9a:  Tropicalnut
9b:  Starch; SocalKoop; Tropheus76; ClayMango
10a:  Fyliu; JonathonForester; cfinley; barath
10b:  Gunnar429; Grandmotherbear
11a
11b:  From the sea
12a:  Hydro

12b

13a:  Caesar
13b
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 09:44:06 PM by Viking Guy »
-Adam

Viking Guy

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2015, 06:03:50 PM »
THE BLUEBERRY SOUTHERN HIGHBUSH “TREE”

The Blueberry "Tree" that this article pertains to is currently understood to be one of a kind—as in existence.  Highbush varieties were often overlooked in the southern United States in favor of the smaller, clustering bush varieties which are easier to harvest.  The primary issue has been nematodes destroying highbush roots after a few years in native soils, and the berries being too widespread throughout the entire highbush, rather than in thick clusters.  One thing that was overlooked, however, was the amazing flavor of these high bushes as well as the ability to create edible hedges with them. 

Not much effort was placed in creating a commercially driven southern highbush variety that held its own, and the selections have been few and far between—more accurately, non-existent.  With popular demand growing amongst home owners, and more varieties becoming widely available within online ordering, there is now a stronger demand than ever for a southern highbush blueberry that holds its own for the consumer wanting something greater and unique. Container grown blueberries are becoming a hassle, and continued failure planting them in the ground has tested the patience of most.

Now, we have the hidden king of Highbush Blueberries we'd like to introduce that gives the best of many worlds for all of us in warmer climates.  What makes this variety noteworthy?  In no particular order:

*  History:  This lone remaining specimen in was created by a fruit farming couple from seed more than two centuries ago in Georgia, and was transplanted to Defuniak Springs, Florida, where it continued to thrive in their family under strong protection. Once the remaining elderly farmers passed away, the land was finally passed to the last family fruit farmer who collected all ten of the remaining high bushes on the property and brought them to Fairhope, Alabama, to add to his own fruit orchard collection.  He successfully continued propagating them until he had a large row on his property, and was very protective of the bushes and would only share the berries with a select few people after jarring them.  He told relatives that his primary use for the berries besides preserving and eating was composting—swearing the berries added something to the compost that greatly benefitted his fruit and vegetable harvests.  In his elderly age, he awarded his caregiver with one of the blueberry trees (considered to him "a big deal" as the war veteran he was).  After he passed, his farmland sold into a subdivision, and the developers cut down, killed and burned every rare and heirloom fruit tree on his property he spent the latter part of his life developing.  The only remaining blueberry highbush from this heirloom variety happens to be the lone survivor planted in Foley, Alabama—continuing to thrive unto this day.

*  Superior Taste & Texture Quality:  Perfect mix of sweet and tartness; thin and dry skin (non-mushy; bruise resistant); few very tiny and unnoticeable seeds; extremely juicy and smooth.  This blueberry has a very long shelf-life and is fruit-fly resistant.  Can be left on the counter, preserved, refrigerated and frozen—eaten raw or frozen, and is great for cooking in pancakes, deserts, etc.  I have made it a point to bring these blueberries to every fresh market and nursery within approximately 50 miles to have taste tests against the most popular varieties.  Not only have these blueberries totally smashed other berries against a variety of palates for many ethnic groups, many of the people became immediately interested in how to obtain the bush for themselves—some almost aggressively so.  They are by far the smoothest, juiciest and best tasting blueberry I’ve ever placed in my mouth—almost a berry unto itself.

 *  Self-Pollinating; Self-Fertile:  While I am positive having more than one would increase fruit set, the only fluctuation in fruiting patterns I have seen is the berries are more dense 2 years straight, and then a growth season where there is more foliage and about 1/3 of the fruits that set drop off on the 3rd year.  That said, a 2/3 harvest from this single specimen every 3 years is still way beyond the amount of blueberries an average family could consume—that includes freezing or jarring them for later use—as most will end up just given away.  I have also verified that the seeds will germinate in shade, but none of the seedlings are old enough to produce—so I am not sure whether or not the seedling fruit is true to the parent.  I will find out once the first seedling fruits develop in the near future—they are currently in their 4th year since sprouting.

*  Staggered Ripening:  One wonderful thing I love is that not all berries ripen at the same time.  Once berries are able to be harvested, they will continue to develop and ripen for nearly 2 months and provide a prolonged season of edible fruits—big bonus for home growers.

*  Weather, Sun & Chill Requirements:  The Blueberry is planted in a very odd zone in Foley, AL.  While smack in the middle of an 8b area, there are geographical anomalies creating a micro-climate hot spot, and the central Foley climate replicates conditions similar to 9b, Orlando, Florida.  There are high winds, high humidity, high heat and mild winters which sometimes, but rarely, drop as low as 25F.  The weather goes from drought to flooding in the worst of ways, back and forth, throughout the entire summer.  This blueberry highbush shows no stress during any of these conditions.   I would conclude that it can thrive between zones 5-11 based on my observations, but we will need to test this further for clarification to determine the full extremes of its tolerances.  The Blueberry has also endured mild winters in the past without any form of freezing, and the harvest was not hindered.  I am not for certain that more than 100, if any, chill hours are required for fruit set.  Leaves will drop in conditions under 28F, but flowers will still bloom in spring even if they don’t.  Half of the Blueberry “Tree” grows in direct sun, while the lower canopy grows in filtered light or shade, and there seems to be no difference in behavior of the plant—definitely both sun and shade tolerant.

*  Resistances:  So far, no form of soil condition or nematode has affected the root system of this variety from Georgia to Florida—growing without any care, fertilizer, preventives or supplements.  Even in the most humid of weather, along with flooding, there seems to be no disease-prone branches, trunks or root rot—even when roots are submerged for greater than 10 days.  Rust spots will occasionally form on lower canopy leaves close to the ground.  No pests of any kind have been observed attacking leaves or fruit during any phase of the growth or ripening season.  Flooding has not caused any bark or fruit to split.  Other than occasional rust spots on leaves, no attacking virus, fungi, mildew or mold were discovered.

*  Growth & Behavior:  Blueberries do not form in large clusters, but rather, over the entire tree—so picking fruit can be a chore at times.  The variety has a vertical growth pattern, and has grown as tall as 18 feet at its highest point, but averages a height of 12 feet.  Due to the branches weeping (especially when holding fruit), the bush will grow at least half as wide as it does tall, so space must be given to accommodate the branching.  Once a branch sets fruit and weeps, a water sprout will develop at the arch and create new vertical growth—which will also eventually set fruit and weep as well and develop a new water sprout head of its own.  The lower weeping portions then become mature branches on the primary trunks.  New canes will emerge from the base and roots—thickening the central canopy in similar fashion to Nandinas and Pomegranates, and can be hedged and trained exactly the same way.  This variety can be successfully trained without suckers, however, into a tree if desired.

*  Pruning & Propagation:  Pruning in general is limited to dead and damaged branches, although it can be hedged or kept as a tree.  Since it is shade and moisture tolerant, there does not seem to be any need to remove suckers, sprouts, or inward facing branches to promote wind and light inside the canopy.  If left to grow naturally, it will produce a weeping behavior, and occasionally the lowest branches near the ground will die off.  So far, all efforts to propagate via rooting branches of various ages have failed.  Grafting scions has been successful, and air layering still needs to be tested.  So far, the easiest method of propagation has been cutting a newly formed cane emerging off a root runner, and as long as even a single root is attached to the cane, it will successfully take.  However, all rootings done in this fashion must be done in winter or early spring and in the shade; as all attempts in even partial sun or shade in the summertime has failed—even if healthy roots were involved.  There is a strong potential that this variety can also act as a Rootstock for other highly sought after highbush varieties which cannot sink their roots in the south.  So far, the seedlings have taken well to potted culture, but I cannot yet make guarantees that a full grown version of this variety will take well to potting practices at maturity.  Future testing will hopefully yield good results.

DOCUMENTARY PROJECT:  BLUEBERRY TREE

With these items noted, the documentary and photos will follow as time progresses.  Some details may change or be updated in time as we discover the unbiased strengths and weaknesses of this unique blueberry variety.

Visual Characteristics

Berries are large (dime to nickel sized), purple-grey hued, and oval shaped.



Leaves and branches follow a similar step-ladder pattern.  Branches will grow tall, fruit and weep, then new vertical growth begins in the form of water sprouts on the arch making central leaders on each cane—which eventually become fruiting and weeping branches as well.  Notice the very minor rust spots on some of the leaves.




The trunks and canes grow tall and leggy at first with green skin, and then develop flaky bark texture upon maturity.  All growth is vertical until weighed down with fruit.  New canes appear off both the lower trunks and on root runners as far away from the primary trunk as 24 inches.



Canopy dieback seems limited to only the lowest branches near the ground which have produced heavily over the years.  Once every few years, a lower branch will die and need to be pruned.


Fruiting takes place in multiple spreads of smaller irregular clusters. 



Our 2015 Documentary Progression on the Blueberry “Tree”

Our TTF photo documentary began on March 8, 2015.  In our first observations, we see the flowers turning the entire bush into a snowy white cotton ball from a distance.

March 8, 2015 – Flowering
Flowers arranged randomly, yet densely, throughout.



March 29, 2015 – Fruit Set
You’ll find that most flowers set fruit, although there was a little drop off and failures present.




April 18, 2015 – Fruit Growth
Fruit begins swelling during mid-April.




May 1, 2015 – Fruit and Leaf Development
You’ll find that the now green fruit is starting to obtain minor reddening once May arrives, and the leaves are in full flush and seem to have warded off the earlier seen rust spots seen back in early March—yet, some have started yellowing on the edges—most likely due to there being no rain since an early April flood.




A list has been created for zones the Blueberry should be tested in, and people wishing to obtain this for themselves and put it to the test are welcomed to list their desire to do so here, along with their zones, and I will keep track of it on the listing.  Once available, these will be the first to receive the propagated puppies.  I will also be in need of scions of other desirable highbush varieties in order to test this highbush’s potential for use as a rootstock.

This article will now resume receiving new updates, and due to my "status change" posted later in the thread, hopefully the updates will be good ones soon.

Latest Update Version:  20161213
« Last Edit: December 13, 2016, 10:16:48 PM by Viking Guy »
-Adam

starch

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2015, 07:32:57 PM »
Adam,

I look forward to all the information to be coming about this blueberry on this thread. And you can officially put me on the list of one of the people who will buy a blueberry plant from you when it becomes available.
- Mark

gunnar429

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2015, 07:51:15 PM »
Not sure how it will handle zone 10, but I would be interested in helping do my part to spread the variety around.
~Jeff

"Say you just can't live that negative way, if you know what I mean. Make way for the positive day." - Positive Vibration

Viking Guy

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2015, 09:17:29 PM »
Not sure how it will handle zone 10, but I would be interested in helping do my part to spread the variety around.

I'm sure it will handle Z10 just fine.  There's only 1 way to find out!

Hoping people from all zones put it to the test.

I've started the first rooting trials this month.  Let's keep fingers crossed.
-Adam

HMHausman

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2015, 09:21:07 PM »
OK, so I love blueberries.  I buy them at Costco and eat about three large clam shell packages each week.  I hear that they are good for your memory......but can't seem to remember where I heard that.  Just kidding.....I heard it on the Dr. Amen PBS brain series.  In any case, I have tried to grow blueberries and have never been successful.  What is the definitively best, hopefully bulletproof, blueberry to grow in my zone?  Thanks in advance.
Harry
Fort Lauderdale, FL 
USA

Viking Guy

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2015, 09:30:41 PM »
OK, so I love blueberries.  I buy them at Costco and eat about three large clam shell packages each week.  I hear that they are good for your memory......but can't seem to remember where I heard that.  Just kidding.....I heard it on the Dr. Amen PBS brain series.  In any case, I have tried to grow blueberries and have never been successful.  What is the definitively best, hopefully bulletproof, blueberry to grow in my zone?  Thanks in advance.

I will suggest the Blueberry that this thread is about.  Growing blueberries in the ground is what we are trying to achieve with this particular one.
-Adam

gunnar429

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2015, 09:34:54 PM »
OK, so I love blueberries.  I buy them at Costco and eat about three large clam shell packages each week.  I hear that they are good for your memory......but can't seem to remember where I heard that.  Just kidding.....I heard it on the Dr. Amen PBS brain series.  In any case, I have tried to grow blueberries and have never been successful.  What is the definitively best, hopefully bulletproof, blueberry to grow in my zone?  Thanks in advance.

I will suggest the Blueberry that this thread is about.  Growing blueberries in the ground is what we are trying to achieve with this particular one.

While i am hardly qualified to answer this question, I have heard that sunshine blue is the most tolerant of high ph.  I got some last year and they fruited, and were good, but i still have them in pots anyway.  I like the taste and a few berries can even be found in May. 

~Jeff

"Say you just can't live that negative way, if you know what I mean. Make way for the positive day." - Positive Vibration

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2015, 12:47:43 PM »
Harry,

At my previous house, I dug a 30 inch wide, 12 inch deep trench and filled it with 50/50 Canadian peat moss and fine pine bark mulch available at the west Pines Walmart.  I planted Emerald and Jewel.  Then I bought my new house and rented out my blueberry patch (with a house).  On the rare occasions that I have been at the rental house to do maintenance,  I noticed quite a few of the blueberries still looked healthy.  I cannot comment on how productive they are.

I plan to do the same at my new house.  I have lots of Sunshine Blue, Emerald, and Farthing tissue cultured blueberry plants available in my nursery.

OK, so I love blueberries.  I buy them at Costco and eat about three large clam shell packages each week.  I hear that they are good for your memory......but can't seem to remember where I heard that.  Just kidding.....I heard it on the Dr. Amen PBS brain series.  In any case, I have tried to grow blueberries and have never been successful.  What is the definitively best, hopefully bulletproof, blueberry to grow in my zone?  Thanks in advance.
Brandon

bsbullie

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2015, 01:00:21 PM »
Also look info Guild Coast and Sweetcrisp.
- Rob

gunnar429

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2015, 03:23:59 PM »
Also look info Guild Coast and Sweetcrisp.

Is that Gold coast?  Gulf coast?   ???
~Jeff

"Say you just can't live that negative way, if you know what I mean. Make way for the positive day." - Positive Vibration

bsbullie

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2015, 08:00:37 PM »
Also look info Guild Coast and Sweetcrisp.

Is that Gold coast?  Gulf coast?   ???

I dont know, ask my stupid smartphone. ..it should have said Gulf Coast.
- Rob

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2015, 05:25:24 PM »
How tall are talking about Viking guy? I love blueberries and grow several highbrush, but all are very "shrubby". Do you have any pics of the tree?
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Viking Guy

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2015, 06:16:48 PM »
How tall are talking about Viking guy? I love blueberries and grow several highbrush, but all are very "shrubby". Do you have any pics of the tree?

When not weighed down with blueberries, it reaches 18 feet, but sags to 12 when loaded with fruit.  Which is why we call it the Blueberry Tree in quotes.  I will have pics and details soon.  Still trying to get back to the computer.  Posting off the cellphone stinks.
-Adam

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2015, 01:57:45 AM »
Wow! That sounds incredible! How old is this venerable plant? I would be very interested in caring for one if your rooting attempts are successful. Best of luck in your attempts, it sounds like a plant worthy of continuing its genes.
"Failing to prepare is preparing for failure." -Benjamin Franklin

Tropheus76

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2015, 08:29:46 AM »
I would love to give one a go here in sunny 9B when you get around to it. A lot of people around here have blue berry bushes.

gunnar429

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2015, 02:35:21 PM »
how do blueberries handle part sun?  I have a spot on the side of my house that gets 5-7 hours of sun depending on the time of year.  Can they still be productive in this type of lighting?

Thanks!
~Jeff

"Say you just can't live that negative way, if you know what I mean. Make way for the positive day." - Positive Vibration

bsbullie

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2015, 03:00:52 PM »
how do blueberries handle part sun?  I have a spot on the side of my house that gets 5-7 hours of sun depending on the time of year.  Can they still be productive in this type of lighting?

Thanks!

Should be fine in full sun to partial sun.
- Rob

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2015, 05:06:15 PM »
I can try in zone 11b

Droshi

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2015, 01:11:41 PM »
I'm in zone 8a in Texas, with several high bush varieties, thinking of adding some rabbiteye to my collection. Would love to purchase one or two of these to make sure it stays around.

2 of my varieties (Misty and O'Neal) are starting to turn color and ripen now, season around here is usually from mid April to July or so.

Viking Guy

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2015, 03:28:57 PM »
I am still compiling information.  Taking photos and notes and recording progressions, etc.

Another factor here is whether or not this variety can be used as a rootstock for other highbushes people want in Florida.  I will need some desirable scions for testing.
-Adam

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2015, 09:12:49 AM »
Ok, the actual documentary is now posted above.  Please continue watching for updates.  Feel free to ask any questions, and if you notice a typo/spelling/format error, etc, please let me know so I can correct it.
-Adam

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2015, 10:21:55 AM »
Definitely interested in trialing your BB variety.  Keep us posted.
~Jeff

"Say you just can't live that negative way, if you know what I mean. Make way for the positive day." - Positive Vibration

starch

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2015, 12:11:09 PM »
Adam, That is an impressive writeup! You really covered all the bases in detail. This really does sound like it will be a game-changing low chill blueberry. I am super excited to try it out here! Thanks again for sharing all your discoveries here and for taking the time to document this so fully!
- Mark

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Re: The Official "Blueberry Tree" thread.
« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2015, 02:07:12 PM »
Definitely interested in trialing your BB variety.  Keep us posted.

Absolutely.  Glad you wish to participate.
-Adam

 

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