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  • Author or Editor: James N. Moore 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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Our fruit breeding program was initiated in 1964 to provide new cultivars to stimulate fruit production for Arkansas. To date, 3 blackberry, 2 strawberry, and 1 grape cultivars have been released; peach, nectarine, and apple releases are planned in the near future, and several selections of these crops are in advanced stages of pre-release testing. The overall objective of the breeding program is to develop disease resistent, high quality, cultivars adapted to the soils and climate of Arkansas.

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The world in which we live and work is in a rapid state of change. Change is evident in all aspects of life—technological, scientific, sociological, economic, demographic, political. Changes are occurring rapidly in the science and technology of horticulture, and changes occurring in other arenas of life are having, or will have, a significant impact on our profession. It has been said that there have been more significant developments in science and technology in the 20th century than in all the preceding history of humankind. Associated with changing technology have been great sociological changes. The impact of these changes, and others predicted to occur, on the science and profession of horticulture is the subject of my Presidential Address.

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Blackberries have long been a popular fruit in the southern U.S., and they are widely grown there, with excellent potential for expanded production. Raspberries are also well-liked, but not widely grown, due to lack of adapted cultivars. Great progress has been made, particularly in the past four decades, in improving blackberry cultivars for the South, but little effort has been given to raspberry improvement. Germplasm exists within Rubus to provide great advances in conventional cultivar improvement in both subgenera and for creating new types of fruits through interspecific hybridization. Germplasm and breeding strategies will be discussed that would result in new cultivars to serve as the foundation on which to build much expanded blackberry and raspberry industries in the southern United States.

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This symposium has successfully illuminated the history, present status, and future directions of fruit genetic resources and their management. The blue ribbon panel of speakers, each with different expertise and interest, has interwoven separate perspectives into a common fabric of purpose: The collection, preservation, and use of the world’s fruit genetic resources.

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The fruit breeding program of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station was begun in 1964. Crops initially targeted for improvement were strawberry, grape, and blackberry. In 1966, projects were approved for the breeding of peaches, nectarines, and apples; blueberries were added in 1976. The overall objective of the fruit breeding program is to develop cultivars uniquely adapted to the soils and climate of Arkansas to maximize production efficiency and that produce high-quality fruits for effective market use. To date, 16 cultivars have been developed and released from this program (Table 1). Many of these have become major commercial cultivars, not only in Arkansas but also in many other states.

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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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Seven seedling populations of strawberry were analyzed for ascorbic acid content and color intensity. The amount and type of variation found showed both characters to be controlled by quantitative genes. It is postulated that 2 genetic systems control the inheritance of ascorbic acid and that the 2 systems can interact with each other. Partial dominance was exhibited for high color intensity. Heritability estimates of 41% for ascorbic acid and 81% for color intensity were obtained. Flesh color and ascorbic acid content were not correlated characters.

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Eighteen species of Prunus and 4 interspecific hybrids from the 3 main subgenera were used to ascertain the prezygotic mechanisms that maintain reproductive isolation. The percentage of pollen germination of pure species was very high (82% to 97%), and ranged from 1% to 97% for interspecific hybrids. Pollen tube growth rates differed greatly among species and ranged from 3.8 to 8.7 mm/day in vitro, and from 3 to 12 mm/day in vivo. These values were highly correlated with pistil length (r = 0.90) and pollen volume (r = 0.91). Evidence was obtained suggesting the existence of additional incompatibility mechanisms, the 1st preventing interspecific fertilization in the subgenus Cerasus. In P. avium L., the pollen tubes of some species are inhibited and finally arrested before they reach the first half length of the style. In crosses involving P. cerasus L. and P. serotina Ehrh., the use of the latter as the seed parent showed a 10-fold increase in fruit set when compared to the reciprocal. Secondly, differences in pistil length and in pollen tube growth rate among species provide a sound basis for explaining the phenomenon of unilateral incompatibility in Prunus. The use of male-sterile genotypes of P. persica L., which had a prolonged period of receptivity, gave increased fruit set and showed increased potential for overcoming the prezygotic incompatibility barriers.

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