Southern highbush blueberries (interspecific hybrids containing mostly Vaccinium corymbosum L.) continue to gain a significant share of the production acreage of commercial blueberries in Georgia. A major reason for the interest in the species has been that berries ripen during the months of April and May instead of June like most of the rabbiteye (V. virgatum Aiton; syn. V. ashei Reade) grown in the state. Recent University of Georgia (UGA) cultivars, ‘Rebel’ (USPP 18138), ‘Suziblue’ (USPP 21167), and Georgia Dawn™ (USPP 24696), were released for the early market window (NeSmith, 2008, 2010, 2014). However, these and other southern highbush cultivars grown in the earlier market window generally require frost protection measures for successful production. The release ‘Camellia’ (USPP 18151) does not typically require frost protection measures; however, it is later ripening (NeSmith and Draper, 2007). There is a need for southern highbush varieties that flower late enough to miss most freeze events, yet, ripen in earlier, more favorably priced market windows.
‘TH-948’ (USPP 27323) southern highbush blueberry Miss Lilly™ has been released by the University of Georgia, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences along with the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station as a later-flowering cultivar that has a short fruit development period, resulting in early season ripening. The new cultivar has consistent yield, along with good berry flavor and very good size. Because Miss Lilly™ flowers late, frost/freeze protection measures are not typically necessary to achieve successful production as is often required for earlier-flowering southern highbush cultivars.
Ballington, J.R., Rooks, S.D. & Mainland, C.M. 1991 ‘Reveille’, a new southern highbush cultivar for mechanical harvesting for both fresh and processing market outlets, p. 53–62. In: C.A. Brun (ed.). Proc. 6th N. Am. Blueberry Res. Ext. Workers Conf., 10–12 July 1990. Portland, OR