deer damage on different types of blueberries
Are rabbiteye blueberries significantly less prone to deer damage than highbush blueberries?
Maury County Tennessee
Dear Maury Co, TN,
Thank you for writing Extension with you Natural Resource questions. Here in Alabama we cannot successfully grow highbush blueberries. We do have the Elliott's blueberry, sparkleberry, huckleberry; which some call 'high bush', but really the "cultivated" high bush plants end around north TN. We recommend 'rabbit eye' down here.
As for your question, no. Deer will come after all of the blueberry bushes. Down here many producers use horticultural netting to keep both birds and deer away from their bushes. I trust this helps. Blessings. - Andy
Thanks. I have grown both types for years with pretty good results, but that is in a yard with deep, well drained soils, a north slope aspect, and an electric fence around the yard. (I put it there to keep the cattle out, but I've discovered it discourages deer as well, even though they could jump it easily.) Several friends have recently asked me about growing blueberries, and deer damage is among their worst problems if they have already planted them, or their worst fears if they have not planted yet. Some of the publications from the University of Georgia seem to imply that deer damage is worse on highbush, but I suspect that is because they only grow highbush berries in the mountains, and the deer populations are higher there than in south Georgia.
Thank you for your insights. I would recommend constructing a 'double fence' for deer if they are serious about growing blueberries. It doesn't matter if there are two stand up fences or if there is one stand up fence and the other leaning. As you said, the deer can jump over the electric fence. I'm here in the Birmingham area, and I have to double fence my garden. The deer know exactly when the green beans and field peas are ready! I really don't like spray on repellants. They might work on pine and hardwood seedlings, but I haven't found them to work with good tasting food. Blessings. - Andy