RECENT USDA–ARS BLUEBERRY CULTIVAR RELEASES

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  • 1 USDA–ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticulture Laboratory, P.O. box 287, Poplarville, MS 39470

Two new southern highbush blueberry cultivars, `Dixieblue' and `Gupton', will provide growers with new blueberry cultivars having excellent fruit quality that ripen relatively early in the season, during the profitable early fresh-market window. Berries of `Dixieblue' are light blue, medium in size, and their flat shape makes them most attractive. `Gupton' is very productive and berry quality is also excellent. The performance of these cultivars represent an improvement over most currently available southern highbush blueberry cultivars due to 1) their durability and performance on both upland and sandy soils endemic to the Gulf Coast and 2) consistent production of high quality fruit that will meet the demand for early ripening fresh-market blueberries. The new rabbiteye blueberry cultivar, `DeSoto', represents an improvement over currently available rabbiteye blueberry cultivars for late-season production. `DeSoto' produces medium-to-large fruit having excellent color, flavor, and firmness Plants of `DeSoto' are productive, vigorous but semi-dwarf, upright and spreading. It's semi-dwarf growth habit, which is unique among currently grown rabbiteye blueberries, results in bushes that attain a maximum height of about 2 meters upon maturity, reducing the necessity of top-pruning that is required for all other cultivars. `DeSoto' blooms two to three weeks later than early-to-mid season cultivars such as `Climax' and `Tifblue', providing insurance against late-spring freezes. Similarly, its fruit mature 21 to 14 days or more, respectively after these same cultivars. `DeSoto' will provide niche market blueberry growers with a new cultivar having productivity, plant vigor, fruit quality, and very late ripening period that will extend their marketing season. The new evergreen ornamental blueberry, `Native Blue', is low growing, compact and finely branched with small glaucous leaves, traits that are quite typical of V. darowii. `Native Blue' has beautiful foliage that changes color in different seasons. Mature leaves are darker green while newer growth exhibits a light pinkish hue that changes to a bluish green. Other desirable characteristics of `Native Blue' are its dwarf growth habit, hardy and vigorous growth, and its capacity for a high level of fruit production that serves as an attractant to birds and other wildlife. `Native Blue' will provide southeastern U.S. nurserymen, landscapers, and homeowners with a novel and beautiful new ornamental shrub that will complement plantings of azaleas, camellias, crepe myrtles, etc.

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