Assessment of Newly Released and Well-Established Rabbiteye Blueberry ( Vaccinium ashei Reade) Cultivars in North Alabama
Many cultivars of rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) have been recently developed with diverse vegetative and cropping characteristics, but scientific data on their performance in Alabama is limited. An experiment was established at the North Alabama Horticulture Research Center, Cullman, AL (lat. 34˚11'N, long. −86˚47'E), USDA Hardiness Zone 7B, to evaluate the performance and horticultural value of the following rabbiteye blueberry cultivars:“Alapaha”, “Baldwin”, “Brightwell”, “Climax”, “Ira”, “Montgomery”, “Onslow”, “Powderblue”, “Premier”, “Tifblue”, and “Yadkin”. Cultivar flowering and ripening season, yield potential, fruit quality characteristics, and vegetative growth were investigated during 2009 and 2010. “Alapaha”, “Climax”, and “Premier” were found to have early ripening in north Alabama.“Alapaha” flowered later than the earliest flowering cultivars, but ripened consistently early, and this later flowering can serve to protect “Alapaha” crop from late freeze damage. Cultivars were not found to differ with respect to their cumulative yield in their fifth and sixth leaf. “Brightwell” and “Climax”had the firmest berries, while “Climax” and “Premier” had the sweetest berries.