Submitted to: USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Cultivar Release
Publication Type: Germplasm Release
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/29/1994
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: A new southern highbush blueberry cultivar named 'Pearl River' was released by the USDA Small Fruit Research Station, Poplarville, MS. This cultivar should be grown in the coastal plain areas of Southeast U.S. 'Pearl River' plants are vigorous, grow upright, and are productive. The fruit is medium in size, darker blue than most cultivars presently grown, and has good quality. 'Pearl River' plants bloom late, thus avoiding late freezes whic would kill flowers yet the fruit ripens before the earliest ripening rabbiteye cultivars.
Technical Abstract: The Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, recently released to nurserymen a new southern highbush blueberry cultivar, 'Pearl River', which is relatively low chilling and recommended for trial on the coastal plain areas of Southeast U. S. This cultivar is probably not adapted to the very low chilling areas of central Florida. Plants of this cultivar are more vigorous than others grown in the Gulf Coast Region 'Pearl River', tested as MS149, was selected in 1982 from a cross of G-136 x Beckyblue made by A. D. Draper at Beltsville, Maryland. G-136 is a tetraploid highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum) blueberry selection from the cross of G-67 (Earliblue x US11-93) x E-55 (Berkeley x F-72). Beckyblue is a hexaploid rabbiteye (V. ashei) cultivar from the Florida breeding program. The seedlings were grown in south Mississippi and 'Pearl River' was selected by J. M. Spiers, C. L. Gupton, and A. D. Draper. Plants of 'Pearl River' are vigorous, grow upright, and are productive. 'Pearl River' is a hybrid of highbush and rabbiteye blueberries. 'Pearl River' fruit is medium in size, has good flavor and small scar, is firm and though darker blue than cultivars presently grown, is commercially acceptable. 'Pearl River' plants bloom late and the fruit ripens about one week before the earliest ripening rabbiteye cultivars. 'Pearl River' should be interplanted with other southern highbush cultivars to facilitate fruit set, early ripening, and maximum yield. No virus symptoms have been observed. It is recommended that this new cultivar be planted for trial in areas where southern highbush blueberries are grown successfully, roughly corresponding to the Gulfcoast Region of USDA plant hardiness zone 8.