North Carolina Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
Plant Disease Fact Sheets

Vaccinium (Blueberry)

Blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) are a woody deciduous plant native to North America, and several species may be found growing wild in North Carolina.   These wild-growing bushes are well known to hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, but are rarely harvested for sale due to their scarcity, small berry size or sparse yield.

Commercial blueberry production is concentrated in southeastern North Carolina due to the high organic matter content and high water table of certain open, porous, sand-based soils in that region.  Blueberries require acid soil, good drainage, lots of organic matter, and abundant water.  Economically important types of blueberries grown in NC are improved cultivars (cultivated varieties) of three types --  highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.), southern highbush (V. corymbosum interspecific hybrid), and rabbiteye (V. virgatum, syn. V. ashei Reade).

 

Highbush blueberries are the most commonly grown species in the United States, and are grown as far south as North Carolina and Arkansas.  In North Carolina, highbush blueberries are grown mostly on unique soils in the coastal plain, or at higher elevations in western NC.  Sometimes referred to as Northern Highbush blueberries.

Southern highbush blueberries are interspecific hybrids of highbush blueberry and several other blueberry species.  They combine the fruit characteristics of highbush blueberry with low chill requirement, drought tolerance, and other useful traits.  This is a highly diverse group of cultivars that has greatly expanded the areas of the world in which blueberries can be grown

Rabbiteye blueberries are a highly vigorous, late-ripening species native to the southeastern US.  Popular for their prolific growth and ability to survive adverse conditions, rabbiteyes are the blueberry of choice for home gardeners throughout the state, and for commercial growers on in the NC Foothills, Piedmont and on upland soils in the Coastal Plain.