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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Improving shelf life of blackberries through conventional breeding

item Clark, John
item Perkins Veazie, Penelope

Submitted to: Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2007
Publication Date: 6/1/2007
Citation: Clark, J.R., Perkins Veazie, P.M. 2007. Improving shelf life of blackberries through conventional breeding [abstract]. HortScience. 42(3):446.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The University of Arkansas began blackberry breeding in 1964, and fruit breeder James N. Moore envisioned vast improvement of this "native" southern U.S. crop through crossing and selection of existing germplasm. He used the recurrent mass selection system of breeding, a system that utilizes the crossing of complementary parents that show positive phenotypic traits and selecting the superior progeny at fruiting. Great advances were made, and by 1983 four cultivars had been released that were superior to previous developments. The release of ‘Navaho' in 1989 was a hallmark achievement, in that it had erect, thornless canes, the first cultivar to exhibit this combination of traits. ‘Navaho' was also identified to have much better shelflife than thorny cultivars, and in the early 1990s the interest for a cultivar that had shelflife for more than 1 to 3 days was developing as pre-picked sales (rather than pick-your-own) were becoming more common. This led to the development of a cooperative research endeavor between the University of Arkansas (John R. Clark) and USDA-ARS (Penelope Perkins-Veazie) to expand postharvest evaluations of blackberries. Early progress indicated that: 1) ‘Navaho' could be stored for up to 2 weeks in appropriate conditions, 2) firmness in field evaluations did not always translate to good shelflife, 3) substantial variability for shelflife was present in the Arkansas breeding germplasm, and 4) a protocol for routine evaluations could be developed to screen a wide range of genotypes, including evaluations for berry firmness, leakiness, development of mold, and retention of black drupelet color. This effort has led to expanded recommendations of commercial potential of newer cultivars such as ‘Apache' and ‘Ouachita' for the shipping market. Identification of superior parents for shelflife potential has led to hybridzations for improved shelflife to be undertaken with substantial further phenotypic advances identified. The relationship of breeder and postharvest physiologist in this effort has allowed substantial advances in technology for producers, resulting in major expansions of blackberry production in the South, other regions of the U.S., and other countries.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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