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  • Author or Editor: He Shanan x
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China is poised to make a substantial leap in blueberry production within the next ten years. This paper reviews the history of blueberry introduction and evaluation in China, current distribution, potential growing areas, the species and cultivars involved, propagation studies, production and projected market potential. Rabbiteye varieties introduced in 1987 to the Nanjing Botanical Garden have many years of production data. Nursery propagation and multiplication is a success. Rabbiteye blueberries with over 10 years of evaluation include Baldwin, Brightwell, Centurion, Choice, Climax, Delite, Gardenblue, Powderblue, Premier, Tifblue, and Woodard. There are many regions in the Southern belt of China adapted to blueberries, provided specific soil and climatic preferences are present. The potential for a large domestic fresh and processed blueberry industry appears enormous. Economic gains in China and the entire Pacific rim has resulted in a large population of health-conscious citizens with disposable income. China appears uniquely poised in the region to greatly expand production. This paper will review a number of business efforts underway—both private and joint ventures—that will soon reach full commercial production.

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Blueberries are now the hot point of fruit development in China. Researches conducted in the past since 1980s include mainly introduction and propagation. More than 30 cultivars of rabbiteye blueberries and southern highbush blueberries were introduced successfully in the Nanjing Botanical garden in late 1980s. For dormant cuttings of 4 rabbiteye blueberry cultivars Gardenblue, Tifblue, Climax, and Premier the rooting percentage could reach 84%, 52%, 62%, and 79% respectively under interrupted misting. Lignification of the cuttings seemed the key point for rooting. For soft cuttings the rooting percentage can reach 90% to 95% with chemical treatments. Seedling selection has been conducted and some promising individuals are under observation. So far, there were little experiments on cultural practice under taken. But looking at the difference of soils between the blueberry growing areas in the US and China it seems that there are a series of aspects should be researched in the future.

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The native species of Vaccinium are distributed in both northeast and south of China but more species are in the South. Ecologically, there is a vast territory in the South with acidic soils and plenty of precipitation and warm weather. On the other hand in the northeast regions temperature in winter is usually a problem for cultivated blueberries and protection from freezing is necessary for young plantations. Based on the result of introduction of cultivars, including rabbiteye, southern highbush and lowbush blueberries, in both northern and southern parts in China during the last 2 decades authors suggested that the most prospective regions for blueberry growing could be mostly in south of China. In the between of the two regions the natural ecological conditions are not appropriate for blueberry growing but plantations under plastic film appeared relatively vigorous. 12 rabbiteye blueberry cultivars have been tested in the south and the performance of growth and fruiting are good. It is expected that the average of yield could reach about 15 t·ha–1. The quality of fruits is similar to that of the natives in North America. Up to now there are less insects and diseases damages. It seems that the regions in the south of Changjiang (Yangtze) River provide good conditions for blueberry commercial growing.

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