Submitted to: Germplasm Release
Publication Type: Germplasm Release
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2004
Publication Date: 9/1/2004
Citation: Stringer, S.J., Spiers, J.M., Draper, A. 2004. Notice to nurserymen of the naming and release for propagation of De Soto, a new rabbiteye blueberry cultivar. Germplasm Release. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Washington, D.C. 20250.
Interpretive Summary: no interpretive summary needed
Technical Abstract: Due to their adaptation to the environment and growing conditions of the Gulf States, rabbiteye blueberries continue to be the most widely grown type of blueberry in this region of the U.S. Rabbiteye blueberry cultivars currently utilized for commercial fresh market shipping and processing markets ripen in early-to-mid season, allowing these type blueberry producers to capitalize on higher market prices. However acreage devoted to blueberry plantings for other niches including local fresh market, pick-your-own, and dooryard orchards continues to increase. These market niches demand additional high quality, late ripening rabbiteye blueberry cultivars that can extend the harvest season and provide opportunities for longer periods of sales and consumption of locally grown and high quality blueberry fruit. 'DeSoto' represents an improvement over currently available rabbiteye blueberry cultivars for late-season production. 'DeSoto' produces medium-to-large fruit having excellent color, flavor, and firmness Plants of 'DeSoto' are productive, vigorous but semi-dwarf, upright and spreading. It's semi-dwarf growth habit, which is unique among currently grown rabbiteye blueberries, results in bushes that attain a maximum height of approximately 2 meters upon maturity, reducing the necessity of top-pruning that is required for all other cultivars. 'DeSoto' blooms two to three weeks later than early-to-mid season cultivars such as 'Climax' and 'Tifblue', providing insurance against late-spring freezes. Similarly, its fruit mature 21 to 14 days or more, respectively after these same cultivars. 'DeSoto' will provide niche market blueberry growers with a new cultivar having productivity, plant vigor, fruit quality, and very late ripening period that will extend their marketing season. The name 'DeSoto' was chosen to reflect the site at which they were developed which is adjacent to the DeSoto National Forest, as well as in honor of the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto, who entered Mississippi in 1541.