The University of Florida has historically been at the forefront of Blueberry Breeding. Their commitment to improving the crop’s yield, timing of production, and disease/pest resistance along with texture and flavor has been instrumental for the development of the Florida Blueberry industry.
by Aviram Krell
“We know that communication is key for our growers, and we want to make sure that our growers can rely on us in any situation. It’s a big reason we decided to renovate our webpage, which is updated regularly with varietal data. We wanted to make sure growers would be able to contact us at a moment’s notice.” – Head breeder of the program, Dr. Patricio Munoz.
Dr. Patricio Munoz, has been conducting tests on the new upcoming varieties all year and he says that the results of the lab’s hard work are starting to show.
The process of breeding a new commercial variety usually takes upwards of twelve years, but that is not considering the emerging technology that allows the lab to use genomic modeling to help predict what varieties may succeed in the commercial markets.
“Right now, we are seeing blueberries having firm and crunchy textures, which is what we’ve been selecting for to help mechanical harvesting, but it’s really exciting to see phenotypes with better flavor, and bigger berries too.” – Head Breeder Patricio Munoz
One variety in particular that it is starting to become popular here in Florida is Optimus, due to how great it performs for Mechanical Harvesting.
We are seeing that in order for Florida growers to remain competitive with international competition, we really need to stay ahead of the game. And we can help producers by providing methods and cultivars that give them an edge. Cultivars that are adapted to mechanical harvesting maintaining good quality and yields will lead to a berry that provides a higher value to customers at a lower cost to growers. This leads to higher consumption and higher profitability.