There are three types of blueberries commonly grown in Georgia: the southern highbush, the northern highbush and rabbiteye. Each species has a dozen or more cultivars. Each cultivar develops a different size of fruit and is grown in different regions throughout the state. The cultivars bloom at different times, depending upon individual chilling requirements.
The rabbiteye is the most widely grown, and easiest-to-grow, blueberry in Georgia. The rabbiteye is adaptable to a number of soil environments, from sandy to clay, making it suitable to grow in multiple parts of the state. High organic material is not a provision for good growth. Rabbiteye cultivars have a short ripening window, from early June to late July. Although the plants can initially be expensive, they can be productive for decades to come if properly cared for.
Compared to rabbiteye, the southern highbush is considerably more difficult to grow. Harvesting southern highbush cultivars requires a considerable amount of time, as they are harvested by hand. The cultivars also require some specific planting guidelines in order to produce a successful crop. Growing requirements include permanent irrigation, annual pruning, soils that are rich in organic matter and pest and disease management. Southern highbush cultivars are grown in the southern region of the state and have the highest potential for early blooms and ripening, typically in early April and May.
While northern highbush cultivars are self-fertile, the final product may be a surprise if different cultivars are cross-pollinated; it is common to see larger, early developing berries in such a case. The northern highbush blueberry is not heat tolerant and is best grown in the mountain area of the state. Like the southern highbush, they require rich soil that has been amended with mulch.