The Climax Blueberry is a very sturdy heat-resistant berry with good color and flavor that’s popular with many growers in the south. It also produces large harvests year after year with very low chilling hours needed. Let’s take a closer look at why so many growers love the Climax berry.
History of the Climax Blueberry
The Climax Blueberry is a Rabbiteye variety and was first introduced in 1974 by researchers at the University of Georgia. And since hitting the market, the Climax has become the gold standard for early ripening Rabbiteye berries planted throughout the south and southeast regions.
Climax Blueberry / Fruit Characteristics
A few unique features of the Climax Blueberry include:
- Low chilling hours
- Very large size
- Large harvests
- Bears first fruit sooner than many varieties
- Upright growth habit
- Attracts birds and butterflies
- Excellent firmness, color, and flavor
The Climax Blueberry bush requires between 400-450 chilling hours. However, this variety performs poorly during late spring freezes.
This blueberry ripens in the early season between late May and July. It can bear fruit within its first year, and one bush can produce up to 15 pounds of berries each year! For the sweetest, juiciest berries, it’s important to allow your berries to fully ripen on the bush as they do not ripen after harvest.
Climax blueberries are round with small scars with firm dark blue flesh. The taste has just a touch of spice within a very sweet flavor.
The berry sizes can range from small to medium.
Climax can grow in USDA Hardiness zones 6-9. They don’t tolerate spring frosts well, so you will need to protect them during these events. You can learn more about protecting your blueberries from frost and freeze in this guide.
Size and Spacing
The Climax Blueberry bushes can grow 6-8 feet tall and spread 5-8 feet wide. You’ll want to ensure you space your plants at least 6-8 feet apart, giving you room to walk between them during harvest season.
This bush does require cross-pollination to produce fruit. It’s recommended you plant 3-4 rabbiteye varieties for optimum results. A few varieties we recommend are:
Climax Blueberry Bush Care
Blueberry bushes are not very fussy plants, but they do require a bare minimum of care to ensure a bountiful, quality crop. The most important thing is ensuring your soil has the right pH level, which can be the difference between a bush that produces no fruit and one that grows bucket loads. You’ll also need well-drained soil and plenty of direct sunlight.
As we mentioned, the pH level is a very important factor in growing blueberries. You usually want your levels to be between 4-5 pH. However, the Climax and other Rabbiteye varieties can tolerate slightly higher pH, up to 6.0. That said, keeping your pH in the lower five range is probably your best bet.
It’s a good idea to conduct a soil test to determine the exact ratio of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-and potassium (NPK) present in your soil before purchasing fertilizer. You can buy soil tests anywhere that sells plants, and they are pretty straightforward.
Organic additives such as peat moss can help lower your soil’s pH levels if it’s too high.
Rabbiteye varieties like Climax are susceptible to certain kinds of fertilizers, and too much fertilizer can also be harmful. It’s best to apply fertilizer just 2-3 times a year at lower rates. The best kinds of fertilizers are slow-release synthetic and organic.
Blueberries need nitrogen-based fertilizers. The exact ratio of Nitrogen-Phosphorus-and potassium (NPK) you’ll need can vary depending on your soil. In Texas, for example, the most common mix is 21-0-0. For more on how to fertilize blueberries, check out this handy guide.
Mulch is also a vital component in growing blueberries — especially within the first two years. Mulch helps improve the soil’s acidity, control weeds, conserve soil moisture, and moderate soil temperatures. You’ll want to add a ring of 4-6 inches of mulch over two or more feet from the plant crown. Good mulch material includes:
- Peat moss
- Pine bark
- Bine straw
- Grass clippings
Blueberries, in general, need a lot of direct sunlight, between 6-8 hours per day. And while Climax only requires a minimum of 3 hours per day, it’s best to give your bushes as much sun as possible. Rabbiteye varieties are known for their toughness. When it comes to hot weather environments, you rarely need to worry about too much sun, that said, these bushes can tolerate partial shade, but you may not get the best production.
Watering is essential when it comes to establishing and maintaining your bushes for maximum production — especially during the first year. Water your plants twice a week for the first year until your bushes are fully established. Water more twice a week rather than less once a day to help their root system develop more quickly.
Methods such as soaker hoses and drip irrigation are popular among growers. When using drip irrigation, it’s important to ensure even moisture. Here’s a great guide with more tips on watering blueberries.
Rabbiteye varieties such as Climax only require occasional pruning. You’ll need to thin the lower limbs to keep your fruit from touching the ground. And thin any overly vigorous upright shoots that are a few feet from the ground. This will ensure your bush’s center stays open and keeps the bearing area within reach. For more on pruning, here’s a helpful guide.
Diseases & Care
While all rabbiteye blueberry varieties such as Climax have a natural resistance to many diseases that impact other blueberry species, they are susceptible to mummy berry disease and a few foliar diseases like Septoria leaf spot and leaf rust. You may find this guide to common blueberry diseases helpful in planning your garden.
It’s not just people who love blueberries — pests will fight to get to your crop before you can. For information about how to identify, eliminate, and deter pests, read our blog post on the 9 common pests you’ll encounter with blueberries
Common Uses For the Climax Blueberry
Blueberries are fantastic in all sorts of delicious recipes, but they are also very good for landscaping as well. The flowers on the Climax Blueberry bush bloom in early spring, producing lovely white-pink flowers. And during the fall, the leaves turn a gorgeous shade of orange-red.
What Do Climax Blueberries Taste Like?
These blueberries have a slightly spicy, sweet flavor. The skin is nice and firm and makes a good juicy crunch.
Most of us know you can make all kinds of amazing baked goods with blueberries such as cakes, pies, and muffins. But, you can also create amazing meat-based meals using blueberries too. Blueberries pair very well with meats like pork, fish, venison, beef, and poultry.
Climax blueberries are amazing right off the bush and make for the perfect sweet snack when you really need to satisfy your sweet tooth. They are also great in salads, yogurt, smoothies, and oatmeal.
Canning isn’t the best method for preserving blueberries, but you can make tasty jams and preserves.
As for freezing, this is the best way to preserve your whole blueberry. It’s important to wash and dry them first before putting them in the freezer for a few hours. Just make sure you give each blueberry a little space to prevent them from lumping all together.
When it comes to drying, you’ll get the best results from using a food dehydrator. But, you can also dry them in an oven.
Recipes for Climax Blueberries
Here are a few tasty savory blueberry recipes.
- Blueberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
- Blueberry-Beef Burgers
- Filet Mignon with Blueberry Glaze
- Blueberry Balsamic Glazed Salmon
- Blueberry-Dijon Chicken
For something on the sweeter side, here are some recipes from our website:
You can even substitute blueberries in this recipe for Cherry Crumble.
Health Benefits of the Climax Blueberry
Blueberries are a superfood that offers a ton of nutritional and health benefits. They are full of fiber, vitamin C and K, potassium, and antioxidants. In fact, blueberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants over any other type of berry! For more information about all the health benefits you get from eating blueberries, click this link for our blog post.
Where To Buy Climax Blueberry Bushes
You can purchase Climax blueberry bushes at many local nurseries and retail outlets that sell plants in zones 6-10. You can order the Climax Blueberry from Nature Hills Nursery.
Where To Buy Climax Blueberries
You’ll have better luck buying Climax blueberries if you live in zones 6-10. It isn’t easy to know which type of blueberry you’re getting at a grocery store, so a local farmer’s market or nearby blueberry farms are the best bet for locating a specific blueberry. You can also find farmers online who ship directly to your home.
The Last Word On the Climax Blueberry
The Climax Blueberry produces an abundant harvest of fresh, firm, sweet berries with just a hint of spice. They are rabbiteye berries which means they need 3-4 plants to cross-pollinate. But their yields are well worth it. If you live in a warmer climate, these are a great blueberry to grow year after year.
Do you have Climax Blueberries in your garden or do you know where to buy the fruit in season? Tell us about in the comments section below! To read about other blueberry varieties, click here for our blueberry blog posts.