New Berry Releases Hit Marks For High Yields, Mechanical Harvest
Two new berry varieties — a highbush blueberry and thorneless blackberry — developed by USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist Chad Finn and his colleagues at the Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, OR, were recently released to the public.
‘Baby Blues,’ a cultivar released in cooperation with the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station and the Washington State University Agricultural Research Center, is making its debut during the 100th anniversary of the first cultivated blueberry crop to go to market.
“’Baby Blues’ is a vigorous, high-yielding, small-fruited, machine-harvestable highbush blueberry with outstanding fruit quality. It’s well-suited for those processing markets that require a small fruit size,” Finn says. “’Baby Blues’ should offer growers and processors an alternative to the low-yielding ‘Rubel’ highbush blueberry, and it may thrive in milder areas where northern highbush blueberries are grown.”
Finn also developed a new blackberry named ‘Columbia Giant.’ This thornless, trailing blackberry cultivar came from the same breeding program as ‘Baby Blues’ and was also released in cooperation with the Oregon State University Agricultural Experiment Station.
“This cultivar is a high-quality, high-yielding, machine-harvestable blackberry with firm, sweet fruit that, when processed, is similar to or better in quality than fruit from the industry standards ‘Marion’ and ‘Black Diamond,’” Finn says. “Due to its extremely large size, however, ‘Columbia Giant’ will most commonly be sold in the fresh market.”
‘Columbia Giant’ is adaptable to areas where other trailing blackberries successfully grow.
“Two Tasty New Berries From ARS” was published in the September 2016 issue of AgResearchMagazine.