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James N. Moore

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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James N. Moore

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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James N. Moore

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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James N. Moore

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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Jose Lopez-Medina and James N. Moore

In an early study we reported the feasibility of propagating erect blackberries by floricane cuttings obtained during winter pruning. But how soon during the dormant season can the stem cuttings be collected? And, is a mist system really needed to promote rooting? Experiments were conducted to address these questions. Stem cuttings of `Arapaho', `Choctaw', and `Shawnee' blackberries were collected on two dates, 15 Nov. and 15 Dec. 1996, stuck in peat-perlite mix, and placed in two rooting environments, with and without intermittent mist. Data was recorded on 15 Jan. 1997. Percentage of cuttings rooted was affected by the cultivar-by-date and cultivar-by-environment interactions. Values of 98%, 88%, and 75% were observed for cuttings taken on 15 Dec. of `Choctaw', `Arapaho', and `Shawnee', respectively, while only 19%, 17%, and 45%, respectively, for cuttings of 15 Nov. Intermittent mist promoted higher rooting (85% vs. 31% without mist) and lower death of cuttings (4% vs. 45% without mist) only of `Shawnee'. Greater number of cuttings died when taken on 15 Nov. (21%) than on 15 Dec.(6%). These findings suggest that accumulation of chilling units is an important factor to take into consideration when propagating blackberries by floricane cuttings.

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John R. Clark and James N. Moore

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Timothy F. Bourne and James N. Moore

Cold hardiness was evaluated in twelve seedling populations of tetraploid blackberry, in 1988 and 1989. Seedling populations resulted from crosses made between nine parents of three different categories of cold hardiness. Viability testing of xylem, phloem, and bud tissues were conducted following exposure of tissues to a low temperature estimated to kill one-half of all tissues. Tissues were rated as alive if green and dead if any browning of tissue was seen.

Significant population effects (P<.05) were seen for xylem and bud survival in 1988 and for xylem, phloem, and bud survival in 1989. Results were similar for the two years, although there was a greater discrimination between populations for xylem and phloem survival in the second year. The four populations having `Darrow' as a parent consistently showed greater survival than the other eight lines. The six populations which had `Brison' as one parent showed consistently poor survival with the exception of one resulting from a cross of `Brison' × `Darrow'. This population showed consistently good hardiness, indicating that dominance effects may play a role in cold hardiness of blackberries.

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John R. Clark and James N. Moore

The southern highbush blueberry cultivars `Blueridge', `Cape Fear', `Georgiagem' and `O'Neal' were evaluated for their response to sawdust/woodchip mulch for five years at Clarksville, Arkansas on a Linker fine sandy loam soil. Mulched plants produced higher yields and larger plant volumes than non-mulched. Berry weight was similar for mulch treatment except for the first fruiting year. All cultivars responded to mulch, although `Blueridge' and 'Cape Fear' produced the higher yields. General response of these cultivars of southern highbush was similar to that of northern highbush in previous mulch studies in Arkansas.

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Jose Lopez-Medina and James N. Moore

Root cuttings of A-1836, APF-13, and NC194 primocane-fruiting (PF) blackberry (Rubus subgenus Rubus) genotypes were dug from the field on 31 July 1997 and stored in plastic bags at 2 °C for 32 days. On 1 Sept. freshly dug root cuttings, along with the cold-treated ones, were planted in pots, which were kept in a lath house for 4 weeks and then moved to a heated greenhouse under natural daylength. Cold-treatment hastened emergence of all genotypes. Transition from vegetative to floral phase was first observed in cold-treated A-1836 and APF-13 at the fifth node, with floral appendages clearly evident in both genotypes at the seventh node 45 days after planting (DAP). Bloom started on 26 Nov. and 5 Dec. 1997 and the first fruits were picked on 10 and 25 Jan. 1998 in cold-treated APF-13 and A-1836, respectively. Plants of cold-treated NC194 and of all non-cold-treated genotypes remained stunted with rosetted leaves, showing no signs of floral initiation until 150 DAP. These findings show that exposure to chilling prior to shoot emergence greatly promotes flowering in PF blackberries, and may have application in greenhouse culture of blackberry.