Breeding of Lupinus harvardii as a Specialty Cut Flower Crop

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  • 1 1Texas A&M Univ. Research and Extension Center, 1380 A&M Circle, El Paso, TX 79927
  • 2 2Texas A&M Univ. Research and Extension Center, 17360 Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75252-6599.

The Big Bend bluebonnet, Lupinus havardii Wats., is a showy winter annual native to a narrow geographical range in southwestern Texas with blue, fragrant 0.5–1.0-m-long racemes. The L. havardii raceme has considerable potential in the floral industry, because there is a need for high-quality, durable, raceme-type cut flowers. We began a research and breeding project in 1991 aimed at evaluating the potential for this species as a specialty cut flower. Breeding strategies included the development of selfed populations as well as random pollinations among selected individuals with the aim of improving flower color, uniformity, yield, and postharvest performance. Recurrent phenotypic selection has resulted in the development of blue, pink, and white color lines. Concurrently with the breeding efforts, research on seed germination, greenhouse culture for year-round production, postharvest handling, and shipping requirements have been conducted. Trials have indicated that L. havardii is adaptable to greenhouse culture and that individual plants can produce 15–25 marketable racemes within 4–5 months from sowing. Two years of commercial greenhouse trials have been completed. Blue and white cultivars will be released by Texas A&M Univ. within the next year.

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