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  • Author or Editor: James N. Moore x
  • HortTechnology x
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Expansion of blueberry culture in North America has occurred during the past decade and is projected to continue into the next century. Thirty-six U.S. states and six Canadian provinces report some blueberry production. The area planted to blueberries has inreased by 19% in 10 years, with the largest increase (47%) in cultivated types and only 11% in wild blueberries. It is projected that the total area will increase by an additional 14% by the year 2000. New cultivars are proving of value and are affecting the composition of plantings. Greater interest is being given to mechanical harvesting, and new cultural and pest control innovations are being employed to enhance the economics of production. The expansion of blueberry production is being undergirded by expanded programs in problem-solving research.

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The strategy of plant patenting as a means to generate research funds is gaining increasing interest in fruit breeding programs in public institutions. Patenting can be a positive force in maintaining fruit breeding programs if applied to superior cultivars and supported by well-designed licensing and distribution procedures. To qualify for a plant patent, a cultivar must be distinct, new, and asexually propagated, and cannot be in public use or on sale more than 1 year prior to the application for patent. Plant patents provide protection only for the whole plant as described. In contrast, utility patents can be obtained to provide proprietary rights to individual plant genes, plant characteristics, and plant products. The possible impact of utility patents on future fruit breeding programs is discussed.

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The blueberry cultivar situation in North America is undergoing rapid change. Attempts to grow blueberries in non-traditional areas, and increased biotic and abiotic challenges in traditional production areas, are fueling the search for superior, adapted cultivars. This survey of all blueberry-producing states/provinces in the United States and Canada provides the current status and projected trends in blueberry cultivar use in North America. Most (86%) of current hectarage is comprised of 25 northern highbush, 10 rabbiteye, and two southern highbush cultivars. `Bluecrop' is the dominant northern highbush cultivar, with 35% of the highbush area, while `Tifblue' occupies 40% of the rabbiteye area. Some historically important cultivars, such as `Jersey', `Weymouth', and `Woodard' are in decline. New cultivars of all blueberry types are beginning to have a positive impact on the blueberry industry.

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