Performance of Southern Highbush Blueberry Cultivars Released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cooperating State Agricultural Experiment Stations

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  • 1 Research geneticist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Rutgers Blueberry and Cranberry Research Center, Chatsworth, NJ 08019.
  • 2 Research∼enetictst (retired), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Small Fruit Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705. Current address: 604 E. Park Dr., Payson, AZ 85541.
  • 3 Associate professor, University of Arkansas, Department of Horticulture and Forestry, Fayetteville, AR 72701.

In the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began developing low-chill-adapted highbush blueberry (Vacchizium corymbosum L.) for the southern United States (lat. 29° to 32°N) by using germplasm of the native southern species, V. darrowi Camp. This breeding work resulted in the release of several low-chill southern highbush blueberry (SHB) cultivars in the mid-1980s. These cultivars have been evaluated for yield and adaptation at several locations through the southern regional blueberry germplasm evaluation trials. These trials have shown that organic mulch is required for good performance of SHB. The one-fourth V. darrowi composition of SHB cultivars presents problems of freeze damage at some locations. This problem may be resolved by breeding cultivars through several alternative approaches.

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