U.S.: ARS releases two new berry varieties

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U.S.: ARS releases two new berry varieties

The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has released two new berries to the public, marking 100 years since the first blueberry was first commercially cultivated.

The Columbia Giant blackberry. Photo: Chad Finn

The Columbia Giant blackberry. Photo: Chad Finn

Developed by ARS geneticist Chad Finn and his colleagues at the Horticultural Crops Research Unit in Corvallis, Oregon, Baby Blues is a blueberry suited to processing markets that require a small fruit size while the Columbia Giant blackberry is designed for the fresh market due to its large size.

According to the service, Baby Blues is a "vigorous, high-yielding, small-fruited, machine-harvestable highbush blueberry with outstanding fruit quality", and should offer the industry an alternative to the low-yielding Rubel highbush blueberry.

Baby Blues should also be able to thrive in milder areas where northern highbush blueberries are grown, Finn said.

"Up until the early 1900s, blueberries were picked from the wild, and the bushes often did not survive when transplanted," the ARS highlighted in a release.

"True domestication was beyond reach until 1910. That was when U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) botanist Frederick Coville discovered that blueberry bushes require moist, acidic soil to thrive. In 1916, exactly a century ago, the first commercially cultivated crop of highbush blueberries was harvested."

Columbia Giant is a hornless, trailing blackberry cultivar is a high-quality, high-yielding, machine-harvestable blackberry with firm, sweet fruit.

"The fruit quality is similar to or better than that of the industry standards Marion and Black Diamond," the ARS said.

"Due to its extremely large size, Columbia Giant will mostly be sold in the fresh market. It also is adaptable to areas where other trailing blackberries thrive.

"Columbia Giant came from the same breeding program as Baby Blues and was also released in cooperation with the Oregon State University's Agricultural Experiment Station."



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