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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Production and Genetic Improvement Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #395506

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Blackberry, Red and Black Raspberry, Blueberry, and Strawberry

Location: Horticultural Crops Production and Genetic Improvement Research Unit

Title: Blackberry plant named ‘Celestial’

item Hardigan, Michael
item Finn, Chad

Submitted to: Patent Application
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/17/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: A major challenge for the USDA blackberry breeding program in Corvallis has been to develop erect and semi-erect cultivars from the distinct eastern U.S. genetic background with the improved flavor profiles and reduced bitterness characteristic of Pacific Northwest trailing types. Previous releases such as 'Eclipse' and 'Twilight' approached this goal, but lacked the tremendous yield potential of semi-erect standards like 'Chester Thornless', which remains a standard for its massive yields despite its universally recognized poor flavor. 'Celestial' represents the USDA breeding program's most significant step so far in creating a variety with yield potential rivaling a 'Chester', but with flavor and quality suitable for today's fresh market.

Technical Abstract: A new and distinct blackberry cultivar that originated from seed produced from a cross between the thornless semi-erect maternal blackberry plant ‘Eclipse’ and the thorny erect paternal blackberry plant ORUS 3681-1, the latter of which introduces genetics from cultivated and wild Rubus germplasm from the southeastern U.S. This new blackberry cultivar can be distinguished by its high plant vigor, exceptional yields of small-to-medium sized berries with high gloss, low defects, excellent flavor and fruit quality, and higher heat tolerance than other semi-erect types of blackberries developed in the Pacific Northwest. The berries are well suited for fresh eating, with good sweetness, aroma, and gloss when picked firm. The new and distinct blackberry variety has fruit that are borne on vigorous canes which contain the ‘Merton Thornless’ source of genetic thornlessness.