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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Genetic Improvement and Virus Management of Small Fruit Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Research

Title: Welcome to the party! Blueberry breeding mixes private and public with traditional and molecular to create a vibrant new cocktail

Authors
item Finn, Chad
item Olmstead, James -
item Hancock, James -
item Brazelton, David -

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 11, 2012
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Citation: Finn, C.E., Olmstead, J.W., Hancock, J.F., Brazelton, D.M. 2014. Welcome to the party! Blueberry breeding mixes private and public with traditional and molecular to create a vibrant new cocktail. Acta Horticulturae. 1017:51-62.

Interpretive Summary: In the past 20 years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of breeding programs worldwide. While the USDA-ARS and NC State University programs were seminal, the breeding of cultivars adapted to low-chill regions at the University of Florida has been a major development. Now there are successful public programs in Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida in the US as well as Japan. and new fledgling public programs in Oregon, British Columbia, Chile and Poland. Private programs that were only in the realm of hobbyists 20 years ago are now starting to release cultivars that will have a commercial impact. The licensing of cultivars within and outside of the US has a myriad of forms but all are new since the 1980s. While the future will have a mix of public and privately developed cultivars, compared to decades past, private programs will reach a new level of importance. Traditional breeding techniques will be counted on in all of these breeding programs for the foreseeable future, but for the first time marker-assisted blueberry breeding will be feasible. Blueberry cultivar development will be explosive in the next decade, with the possibility to achieve new levels of fruit quality and previously elusive products such as a dependable, machine-harvested fresh pack.

Technical Abstract: Blueberry cultivar development has never been this vibrant. Twenty years ago, most of the cultivars had been developed by the USDA-ARS or the North Carolina State University program. While there had been successes in the early breeding of cultivars adapted to low-chill regions, the game-changing program at the University of Florida was just getting its legs. In contrast, there are now successful public programs in Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida in the US as well as Japan. New fledgling public programs are in place in Oregon, British Columbia, Chile and Poland. Private programs that were only in the realm of hobbyists 20 years ago are now starting to release cultivars that will have a commercial impact. These private programs are rushing to fill needs in unique production areas. The cultivar release process utilized by these varying programs can be quite diverse. The cultivars from the public programs in the US are often available to US producers with no limitations on who can license them. When public programs begin to look outside of North America, they often arrange exclusive licensing with a single company. With private programs the strategies can be quite different. Some programs keep their cultivars only within their company’s growers, others partner with a handful of exclusive partners, and others allow anyone to grow their cultivars. The first public-private licensing arrangements have also been developed that allow the use of breeding parents for a royalty share. While the future will have a mix of public and privately developed cultivars, compared to decades past, private programs will reach a new level of importance. Traditional breeding techniques will be counted on in all of these breeding programs for the foreseeable future, but for the first time marker-assisted blueberry breeding will be feasible. Blueberry cultivar development will be explosive in the next decade, with the possibility to achieve new levels of fruit quality and previously elusive products such as a dependable, machine-harvested fresh pack.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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