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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Physiology and Genetic Improvement of Small Fruit Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Research

2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Objective 1: Enhance genetic resources for small fruit crops via germplasm acquisition, evaluation, and breeding. Sub-objectives: a. In cooperation with staff at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Corvallis, Oregon, and the ARS Plant Exchange Office and Fruit Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, collect and evaluate new accessions of Rubus, Fragaria, and Vaccinium germplasm and incorporate them into advanced breeding material. b. Breed new blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry cultivars that are productive, high quality, and readily adaptable for commercial small fruit production in the Pacific Northwest.

Objective 2: Integrate new and existing small fruit cultivars into efficient, environmentally acceptable production systems. Sub-objectives: a. Determine the physiological response of small fruit genotypes to different environmental constraints (e.g., soil water limitations, nutrient deficiency, extreme temperatures, and plant diseases) and identify key determinants of resistance, tolerance, and susceptibility to these constraints. b. Develop cultural practices and crop management systems including better irrigation and fertilizer management practices for new and existing small fruit cultivars that mitigate environmental constraints on their horticultural performance and optimize their genetic yield potential.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Studies will be conducted to collect and evaluate germplasm from wild and domesticated small fruits and incorporate it into advanced breeding material for development of new cultivars with traits ideally adapted for commercial production. Key determinants of resistance, tolerance, and susceptibility to environmental constraints will also be ascertained and utilized for selection of new genotypes and for development of new cultural practices better suited to production of the crops. Anticipated products of the research will include: new cultivars of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry; new small fruit germplasm with improved and novel traits; knowledge of the availability and distribution of genetic variability in small fruit species; greater understanding of physiological mechanisms governing the response of small fruit crops to various abiotic and biotic stresses; and new cultural practices and management systems for small fruit crops that result in higher yield and fruit quality, efficient water and nutrient use, and lower environmental impact. Formerly 5358-21000-036-00D (3/08).


3.Progress Report
In FY2010, we released two new blackberry cultivars, Newberry and Wild Treasure. We also submitted a patent application for ORUS 1523-4 blackberry. Our earlier releases, Black Diamond and Black Pearl, are becoming standard cultivars in the Pacific Northwest, and Obsidian has become the early-season standard for fresh market throughout the U.S., including the leading production region, in California.

To develop a better understanding of inheritance of aphid resistance in black raspberry, we established a new seedling field using plants screened for aphid resistance and developed a group of aphid-resistant selections that will serve as the foundation for producing cultivars resistant to aphid-borne black raspberry necrosis virus.

To support breeding programs throughout the U.S., we assembled strawberry germplasm and organized the distribution of 900 strawberry clones to breeding programs in California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Oregon, as well as The Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom. We also made 58 strawberry selections; planted three dozen thornless blackberry selections in replicated trial; and made 28 new blueberry crosses for our new breeding efforts in blueberry.

To increase production and reduce losses of natural resources, we determined the water requirements for irrigation of blueberry and raspberry by drip and identified the best location in each crop to position the drip emitters. We discovered that drip reduced irrigation needs by 20-25% of conventional sprinkler systems and that the actual crop water requirements were less than half the rate currently recommended by USBR and FAO. We are developing irrigation strategies, such as deficit irrigation and evaporative cooling, for enhancing fruit quality of these crops.

We found in young blueberries that N fertigation, or injection of N fertilizer through the drip lines, produced more growth and less salt injury than conventional fertilizers but required much more N fertilizer. Thus, a new study was initiated with six blueberry genotypes to identify cultural practices and inherent plant traits for improving N use efficiency with fertigation.

In cooperation with scientists at Oregon State University, we completed the first 3 years of a long-term project to develop organic production systems for highbush blueberry that maximize plant growth, yield, and fruit quality; facilitate weed, water, and nutrient management; and provide economic benefit to growers. We also continued work to produce a custom compost for blueberry and began a new project to identify practices for organic production and processing of blackberry.


4.Accomplishments
1. New blackberry cultivars. New cultivars are needed to sustain the strength of the small fruit industry in the United States. ARS researchers at Corvallis, Oregon, released two new cultivars of blackberry called 'Newberry' and ‘Wild Treasure’. ‘Newberry' produces a tremendous amount of fruit with outstanding flavor and is ideally suited for the fresh market. ‘Wild Treasure' is a thornless, small-fruited cultivar with superb flavor and appearance and is best suited for mechanical harvesting and processing. 'Newberry' is planted in California and throughout the Pacific Northwest and has earned the acceptance of major fresh market wholesale distributors (e.g., Costco, Trader Joe's), while 'Wild Treasure' is planted largely in Oregon and is marketed for its small fruit size that fit better into bags of frozen berry mixes along with raspberries and blueberries. These new cultivars fill important needs of the blackberry industry.

2. Irrigation management of blueberry. Good irrigation practices are critical for commercial production of highbush blueberry in the United States. However, little information is available on the annual water requirements of the crop. In a six-year study, ARS researchers at Corvallis, Oregon, evaluated various irrigation methods and scheduling strategies for growing blueberries and identified practices that maximize yield and fruit quality and limit the use of irrigation water and fertilizer. A new irrigation guide will be published from the results to provide information to farmers on irrigation system design and water and nutrient management practices for optimal production in blueberry.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
The blackberry, raspberry, blueberry and strawberry cultivars we have released have been valuable for large and small farmers.


Review Publications
Finn, C.E., Strik, B.C., Yorgey, B., Qian, M., Martin, R.R., Peterson, M.E. 2010. 'Wild Treasure' thornless trailing blackberry. HortScience. 45(3):434-436.

Finn, C.E., Strik, B.C., Yorgey, B., Martin, R.R., Stahler, M. 2010. 'Newberry' trailing blackberry. HortScience. 45(3):437-440.

Finn, C.E., Clark, J.R., Sleezer, S. 2010. Blackberry. HortScience. 45:720-721.

Du, X., Kurnianta, A., Mcdaniel, M., Finn, C.E., Qian, M.C. 2010. Flavour profiling of 'Marion' and thornless blackberries by instrumental and sensory analysis. Food Chemistry. 121:1080-1088.

Du, X., Finn, C.E., Qian, M. 2010. Bound volatile precursors in genotypes in the pedigree of 'Marion' Blackberry (Rubus Sp.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58:3694-3699.

Du, X., Finn, C.E., Qian, M. 2010. Distribution of volatile composition in 'Marion' (Rubus Species Hyb) blackberry pedigree. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 1860-1869.

Du, X., Finn, C.E., Qian, M. 2010. Volatile composition and odour-activity value of thornless 'Black Diamond' and 'Marion' blackberries. Food Chemistry. 119:1127-1134.

Thompson, E., Strik, B., Finn, C.E., Zhao, Y., Clark, J.R. 2009. High tunnel versus open field: management of primocane-fruiting blackberry using pruning and tipping to increase yield and extend the fruiting season. HortScience. 44(6):1581-1587.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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