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.
This report serves as the final report and will document research conducted under a Specific Cooperative Agreement between ARS and the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Experiment Station. Additional details of research can be found in the report for the in-house project 6404-210000-006-00D, "Small Fruit Cultural and Genetic Research for the Mid-South." During each year of the project, approximately 250 blueberry crosses were made, 4,000 blueberry seedlings were evaluated, and about 40 selections were made. Southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry selections in 5 locations in three states were evaluated. Selections from previous year evaluations were propagated and planted for further evaluation. Seven selections which had been greenhouse and field evaluated were propagated and planted in several locations for final evaluations before being released as cultivars. Two new cultivars, Prince and Pearl, were released, and five elite selections are being propagated via tissue culture in preparation for release.