Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae International Symposium on Vaccinium Culture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2005
Publication Date: 10/1/2006
Citation: Stringer, S.J., Smith, B.J., Spiers, J.M., Draper, A. 2006. 'DeSoto' a New Semi-Dwarf Rabbiteye (V. asheii, Reade) Blueberry. Acta Horticulturae. 715:97-100. International Symposium on Vaccinium Culture. Interpretive Summary: Consumer demand for fresh blueberries has increased as a result of their increasing knowledge of the neutriceutical properties. As a result of the current popularity of blueberries, the number of agrotourism businesses such as on-farm and roadside produce vendors and pick-your-own (PYO) berry orchards have also increased in the Southeastern United States. Similarly, the popularity of dooryard orchards has increased among homeowners. A problem frequently encountered among these types of growers is that fruit of most currently grown cultivars ripen in early-to-mid season, leaving a void in the availability of locally grown late-season fruit. 'DeSoto', a new late-season rabbiteye blueberry developed and being released by the Southern Horticultural Laboratory at Poplarvillee, MS., provides PYO and backyard growers a consistently productive new cultivar having good fruit quality and flavor that can extend their harvest season by as much as three weeks longer than that of widely popular cultivars such as 'Climax', 'Premier' and 'Tifblue'. The delayed bloom development period of 'DeSoto' also provides growers a degree of safety against injury from late spring frosts that is not available with these cultivars. The semi-dwarf growth habit of 'DeSoto' also results in a rabbiteye blueberry plant requiring substantially less pruning, making its management easier for growers.
Technical Abstract: 'DeSoto' rabbiteye blueberry is a new cultivar developed and being increased for release by the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture breeding programs in Beltsville, MD, and Poplarville, MS. 'DeSoto', tested as MS 63 resulted from a cross between T110 and T107. Plants of 'DeSoto' are vigorous but semi-dwarf, upright, and spreading. Its unique semi-dwarf growth habit results in bushes that attain a height of approximately 2 meters upon maturity, eliminating the necessity of top-pruning that is required for all other rabbiteye blueberry cultivars. Although plants are semi-dwarf, they are highly productive. Fruit of 'DeSoto' are medium to large, have excellent color, flavor and firmness with a small picking scar and ripen about 14 to 21 days after 'Climax', one of the earliest bearing rabbiteye blueberry cultivars. 'DeSoto' is recommended for pick-your-own and dooryard / garden plantings. 'DeSoto' was named in honor of the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto who entered Mississippi in 1541.