BLUEBERRY GERMPLASM EVALUATION AND IMPROVEMENT
Southern Horticultural Research
2011 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To develop genetically enhanced germplasm for cultivated small fruit crops to include blueberries. Emphasis will be directed toward cultural and climatic adaptability for the southern United States, increased winter hardiness, increased fruit quality, extension of harvest season and fruit marketability, and potential for mechanical harvesting.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Conventional breeding and cultural techniques will be evaluated throughout the southeastern United States. Hybridization of prepotent parents for specific locations will be followed by selection of plants having desired character combinations for evaluation of horticultural potential. Seedling progeny developed for specific cooperator locations will be distributed. Existing progenies planted at cooperator locations in the southern U. S. will be screened for plants with improved characteristics. Evaluation of advanced selections and cultural practices will be continued at these locations. Fruit from superior germplasm will be evaluated in field and laboratory tests for quality, shelf-life, marketability, and adaptability to mechanical harvesting.
One hundred thirty-five crosses were made, about 50 involved plants of native Vaccinium species to enhance vigor, adaptation and productivity. Thirteen selections were made: from 1,300 southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry seedlings. Southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry selections were evaluated at 5 locations. Elite selections were propagated for advanced testing, one, (MS812) was named ‘Pearl’, and released to nurserymen. Progress in breeding for improved cultivars was shown in a field day to growers. Visits to cooperator farms were made to evaluate selections under test and to get feed back on performance. Three selections with ornamental potential were identified. Selections were evaluated for time of bloom, important for risk of freeze injury. The ADODR meets regularly, at least 5 times per year, with the cooperating scientist and two meetings include site visits.