The Premier Blueberry lives up to its name. Premiers are leaders among blueberries when it comes to their flavor and how easy they are to grow. If you live in a warmer environment and want to enjoy blueberries fresh from your garden, look no further than these Premier blueberries!
History of the Premier Blueberry
The Premier Blueberry has been around since 1978. It was developed in a breeding program at South Carolina State University through a partnership with the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture.
Characteristics of the Premier Blueberry
The Premier Blueberry is a Rabbiteye variety of blueberries. It’s a fairly compact bush, at just 6 feet to 8 feet tall when fully grown, but it packs a punch and will yield 3-8 quarts of large, deep blue, sweet berries every year once it’s fully matured.
This variety of blueberry bush is a great option if you’re in a warmer climate because it only needs 500-550 chill hours, which is the cumulative time spent at 45° or cooler.
Premier Blueberry fruit will be ripe and ready to enjoy late May through early June, making the Premier a great mid season harvesting option.
If you choose to grow these berries, you’ll find yourself enjoying large, deep blue, firm sugary sweet blueberries! They’ve got that fresh, crisp blueberry flavor you dream of.
Premier blueberries are on the larger side, making them a great addition to baked goods so that you get wonderful pops of that rich, blueberry flavor.
The Premier Blueberry thrives in warmer weather, so if you live in the South, it’s a great option for you. They grow well in planting zones 7, 8, and 9. Sheltering them well may even get them to grow well in zone 6.
Size and Spacing
Premier Blueberry plants only grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall and about 6 to 8 feet wide. If you’re planting in your garden, space your plants 5 to 7 feet apart and spread the rows out 12 feet apart. They’ll take a few years to get to their full size, but you’ll appreciate the space you left between them once they do. The Premier’s compact size makes it a great option for a container if that’s the only space you have available.
Rabbiteye blueberries require other varieties of Rabbiteye blueberries nearby in order for cross-pollination to occur. Some good options to plant nearby are the Climax, Brightwell, and Powderblue blueberries varieties.
Blueberry Shrub Care
The following will be a brief overview on caring for Premier Blueberries with anything specific to this blueberry variety, but for a more in-depth look at the general care blueberries need, visit our page on How to Grow Blueberries.
Premier Blueberries do well in full sun or in partial shade. Full sun is 6-8 hours a day of complete sunlight, while partial shade is 3-6 hours of direct sunlight.
This type of berry plant prefers acidic soil, but it isn’t as picky as other blueberry varieties. So if your soil is borderline acidic, think a pH of 6.0 to 6.5, the Premier Blueberry is for you! When planting, add a layer of mulch, organic matter, or peat moss to help retain moisture in the soil.
Premier Blueberry bushes are naturally heat tolerant and don’t need to be watered incredibly regularly, but do need to be waters once a week during the first year. Take care to not overwater the bush. The roots are shallow and can easily drown due to too much water and poorly draining soil.
Rabbiteye blueberries are pretty sensitive to what sort of fertilizer you use. Ammonium sulfate or special azalea or camellia fertilizers are the way to go for these varieties. Use them in frequent, very small applications rather than one heavy application of excess fertilizer at the beginning or end of the season.
Premier Blueberry plants only need a light pruning in the spring to remove crowded, older stems. It encourages new growth for your future crops! If pruning sounds intimidating, you can visit our How To Prune Blueberries guide.
Some of the diseases your Premier Blueberries may face are fruit rots, gray mold, fungal leaf spots, or root rot. Have no fear, though! We have a fantastic guide to Blueberry Bush Diseases to help you get to the root of the problem quickly and easily so you can nip it in the bud and enjoy your delicious blueberries!
One of the reasons rabbiteye blueberries, like the Premier Blueberry, are such a popular choice is that no major pests have been identified on them. Of course, birds do love to harvest ripe blueberries before humans get a chance sometimes, but some simple plastic or cloth netting put over the bushes once the pollination process is over will help with that.
If you’re looking for more information on blueberry plant pests, blog post on the 9 common blueberry pests is a great resource to help you identify the pests bothering you and how to take care of them.
When to Harvest Premier Blueberries
By late May to early June, you should have plenty of berries that are a deep blue color and firm to the touch. That’s when you know it’s time to start harvesting! As you go, only harvest what is ready and leave the rest on the bush to continue to ripen. For a more in depth look at harvesting blueberries, check out our article on the Right Time to Pick Blueberries!
Common Uses For Premier Blueberries
If tried, I think Premier blueberries will be your go-to for fresh blueberries from then on out. They are a firm berry, which lends itself well to a multitude of uses!
What Does This Blueberry Taste Like?
Premier blueberries have a sugary sweet, delicious flavor! It works really well in places you want that classic, sweet blueberry flavor.
This blueberry lends itself to baking due to its large size and sweet flavor. It would be a great addition to your breads, muffins, pancakes, and pies!
Again, the size, flavor, and firmness of the Premier blueberries mean they are great for eating raw. Enjoy them straight off the blueberry bush, on top of your yogurt, or in some oatmeal.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Premier blueberries are so delicious you definitely are going to want to save them to be enjoyed year-round.
Canning them as syrup or jam is one way to stretch their deliciousness and another great way to use them. Food Network has an article all about an Intro into Canning and Blueberry Jam.
Freezing blueberries is as simple as spreading them out on a baking sheet covered with wax paper, putting them in a freezer overnight, and the moving them to a freezer safe container. They’ll stay fresh for up to 2 years!
Drying blueberries is interesting because then you can choose to use them dried, in something like a trail mix, or you can rehydrate them later to use in baking or anywhere else you’d cook with blueberries. Martha Stewart has a great article on Oven-Dried Blueberries, which means you don’t even need a food dehydrator!
Health Benefits of Blueberries
Blueberries are a great addition to a healthy diet. They are full of antioxidants and vitamins, including Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B2. For a deeper look into blueberry nutrition, check out our Guide to Blueberry Nutrition.
Where to Buy Premier Blueberry Plants
You can buy your Premier Blueberry plants from our friends at Nature Hills. You’ll receive a 3 to 5 year old plant that should be ready to produce a tasty harvest for you in no time! (Don’t forget to buy a pollination partner too!)
Where to Buy Premier Blueberries
Always keep your eyes out at your local farmers market for blueberries and ask the grower what variety they are. You may luck out and find some Premier blueberries! To guarantee enjoying these blue beauties, growing your own is your best bet.
Wrapping Up the Premier Blueberry
After reading how delicious and easy to grow these Premier Blueberries are, how could you NOT add a plant or two to your garden? Let us know in the comments— have you gotten to taste these berries before? Are you planning on growing your own? Have any more questions for us? We love hearing from you!
To read about other blueberry varieties, click here for our blueberry blog posts.