Sixteen western black raspberry (Rubus leucodermis Douglas ex Torrey & A. Gray) populations, collected from through out the Pacific Northwest, and `Munger', the most widely grown black raspberry (R. occidentalis L.) cultivar, were established in 1994 in a replicated trial in Corvallis, Ore. In 1996 and 1997 the seedlings were evaluated for date of budbreak, flowering date, ripening date, fruit size, and disease tolerance. Fruit within a replication were pooled for evaluation of pH, soluble solids, titratable acidity, and anthocyanin content. The plants were vigorous and had produced solid hedges by the time evaluation commenced. The populations were significantly different within each year for all traits except for anthocyanin content in 1996. Rubusleucodermis populations were identified that broke bud and ripened fruit earlier or later than `Munger'; however, all flowered with or sooner than `Munger'. Despite the fact that R. occidentalis is native to eastern North America and R. leucodermis to the West, `Munger' was much less affected by foliar and cane diseases than the R. leucodermis populations. Several populations were as vigorous as `Munger'. `Munger' had fruit that were 30% larger than the mean for any R. leucodermis population. Generally, R. leucodermis had higher pH and lower titratable acidity than `Munger', but many populations had similar soluble solids; lower acidity may partly explain the blandness of R. leucodermis fruit compared with `Munger'. Despite the lighter appearance of R. leucodermis, the anthocyanin levels of some populations were higher than `Munger'. Rubusleucodermis may be a source of earlier fruiting, later budbreak, and vigor when used in breeding but careful selection for fruit size (for the fresh market), acidity (for the processing market), and disease resistance must be done. Rubus leucodermis may also be an excellent source of raspberry bushy dwarf virus (RBDV) resistance in black and red raspberry breeding programs.
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