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.
About 2,500 blueberry selections were evaluated with roughly 25 identified to be propagated for grower trails and several to be named and released to growers.
Visited 3 farms of growers that are testing some of our advanced selections and evaluated those plants. Confering with growers and obtaining their evaluations of several varieties provided insight as to the plant and fruit characteristics important to them. We also discussed the release of at least 2 selections as ornamental varieties.