Submitted to: Journal Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 17, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The selection process for new blueberry varieties is driven by both quality concerns, and economic concerns. Quality concerns include among others, freedom from disease, firmness, seediness, size, color, and flavor. Economic concerns overlap these somewhat in the need for disease free fruit, but include other features such as yield and time of ripening. Both earlier and later ripening cultivars are desired by growers, since it would allow them to command the more favorable prices that often are possible on the margins of the main season. Materials are available in the USDA blueberry breeding program which possess many of these features, and which are desirable parents for seedling production. Invididual clones, their pedigrees and characteristics are detailed.
Development of blueberry cultivars for the next century relies on improvment of characters such as improved disease resistance, improved quality, and improved yield, as well as expansion of trait expression such as extreme earliness, extreme lateness, late summer flowering, parthenocarpy, better soil adaptation, and new fruit types. Sources of extreme earliness include several pure highbush blueberry selections as well as several introgressed selections with Vaccinium atrococcum or Vaccinium boreale. Late ripening may be derived from either conventional late-ripening germplasm, or from selections which flower in late summer and ripen in the fall. This character may be found in selections incorporating V. boreale, V. cylindraceum or V. smallii. The USDA program also works with combining and determining optimum combinations for crosses of hexaploid V. corymbosum, V. ashei, and V. constablaei.