Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Physiology and Genetic Improvement of Small Fruit Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Research

2009 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
Determined best irrigation practices and water requirements for growing red raspberry in the Pacific Northwest. The research forms the basis of new regional irrigation recommendations to increase profitability and competitiveness of growing the crop in the Pacific Northwest and was used to develop an extension publication on caneberry water management.

Developed a new method of using microsprays for irrigating blueberry. Determined the method increased production and quality in the crop compared to traditional methods of sprinkler and drip irrigation. The approach will be refined and tested for use in commercial production.

Continued a study to identify the optimum timing, fertilizer source, and rate of N application for drip fertigation in blueberry. Compared results to conventional granular fertilizer application to assess any benefits of fertigation. The information will be used to develop new guidelines for N fertigation and will help growers determine the best method to apply water and fertilizer for increased production and reduced fertilizer waste.

Continued to evaluate organic weed management, fertility, and production systems for effectiveness and impacts on shoot growth and production, root distribution, and availability of water and nutrients in blueberry. The information was presented at field days and meetings to effectively disseminate research findings to the industry.

A very successful plant germplasm collection trip was undertaken with personnel from the National Clonal Germplasm Repository (NCGR) and with support from the USDA-ARS Plant Exploration Office to the southern and western edges of the North American range of the black raspberry Rubus occidentalis. Seed and clonal accessions of this species as well those from other Rubus sp. Humulus sp., Vaccinium sp. and Asimina sp were placed in the NCGR. A trip report was made and submitted to the USDA-PEO.

In collaboration with the USDA-ARS in Chatsworth, NJ, Michigan State University, the University of Arkansas, and Fall Creek Farm and Nursery (Lowell, OR), we acquired new blueberry seedling populations or genotypes that will serve as parents in our breeding program.

In our cultivar development program, we established seedling fields, identified selections, tested selections, identified superior parents and made crosses to produce a new generation for strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and red and black raspberries.

A small fruited, thornless blackberry has been identified and is in the process of being released (tentative name ‘Wild Treasure’). We are also in the process of working with the USDA-ARS -OTT to patent the blackberry selection ORUS 1523-4; data is being collected currently for the patent application.


4.Accomplishments
1. Best irrigation practices to maximize fruit production in red raspberry. Good irrigation practices are critical for profitable production of red raspberry in the Pacific Northwest. However, little is known about what methods and scheduling strategies are best for irrigating the crop. In a five-year study, ARS scientists in Corvallis, OR evaluated new irrigation methods and scheduling strategies for growing red raspberry and identified practices that maximize yield and fruit quality. The guide to be published from the results will help farmers with irrigation system design and water management practices for optimal production in red raspberry.

2. Developed and released the new strawberry 'Valley Red'. New strawberry varieties are needed with good processing characteristics. 'Valley Red' is a strawberry variety developed by ARS scientists in Corvallis, OR that bears fruit with outstanding processing characteristics including deep red internal and external color, good flavor, easy capping and with excellent quality after freezing. 'Valley Red' is expected to complement the very successful USDA-ARS release 'Tillamook'. This combined with excellent yields of very uniform fruit on vigorously, virus tolerant plants will give growers another option for commercial strawberry cultivar to grow in the Pacific Northwest.

3. An invaluable collection of black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) germplasm. Previous research conducted by ARS scientists in Corvallis, OR had identified lack of variability as a critical roadblock to developing new improved black raspberry cultivars. Research by the USDA-ARS, HCRL Virology Program has recently identified Black raspberry necrosis virus (BRNV) as a critical problem challenging the long term viability of the black raspberry industry. ARS scientists in Corvallis, OR solicited wild black raspberry seed from friends, colleagues, native plant societies and other enthusiasts by mail, and then sought and received a USDA-ARS Plant Exchange Office grant to collect black raspberry from along the southern and western edge of its range in eastern North America. Between these two collections, over 150 populations from many states and several provinces are represented in a common garden in Corvallis, OR. This collection of germplasm has the potential to give us new sources of variability in general and specifically resistance to BRNV or its aphid vector that will help us develop the critically needed cultivars for the commercial industry.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of New Germplasm Releases1

Review Publications
Machado, R., Bryla, D.R., Verissimo, M.L., Sena, A.M., Oliverira, M. 2008. Nitrogen requirements for growth and early fruit development of drip-irrigated processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) in Portugal. Journal of Food Agriculture and Environment. 6(3&4):215-218.

Finn, C.E., Moore, P.P., Kempler, C., Yorgey, B., Strik, B., Martin, R.R. 2009. 'Valley Red' Strawberry. HortScience. 44(5):1468-1471.

Finn, C.E., Clark, J.R. 2008. Register of new fruit and nut cultivars- List 44. HortScience. 43:1321-1343.

Black, B., Frisby, J., Lewers, K.S., Takeda, F., Finn, C.E. 2008. Heat unit model for predicting bloom dates in Rubus. HortScience. 43(7):2000-2004.

Clark, J.R., McCall, C., Finn, C.E. 2008. Blackberry. In: Finn, C., Clark, J., editors. Register of newfruit and nut cultivars- List 44. HortScience. 43:1323-1324.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page