UGA Blueberry Breeding: Developing and Sustaining an Industry D. Scott NeSmith Dept. of Horticulture Univ. of Georgia Griffin, GA UGA Blueberry Breeding Program Has Rich History • Program got small start in 1930’s • Dr. W. Thomas Brightwell 1945, a visionary. • Great example of long term impact of Ag research!! Today • Today, program has research farms at Alapaha and Griffin. Blueberry acreage explosive growth Georgia Blueberry Farm-gate Value Year 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 Value (million $) 22 30 48 60 75-80 90-110 150 < Georgia blueberry commercial industry OR Mich. NJ Calif. NC Georgia Florida 20-Mar 9-May 28-Jun 17-Aug Breeding Program Overview Breeding Program Overview Blueberry Cultivar Development Timeline 12 10 Years 8 6 4 2 0 Seedling Selection Advanced Selection New Variety BAD NEWS Takes 12 or more Years GOOD NEWS HAVE PROGRAM CONTINUITY Breeding to meet commercial industry challenges • Increased fruit size for blueberries – increased consumer acceptance – increased harvest efficiency Breeding to meet commercial industry challenges 2011 Prices Per Flat (12) of 6 oz. containers – higher market prices Dollars • Early ripening varieties 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Low price High price 9-Apr 16-Apr 23-Apr 30-Apr 7-May 14-May Estimated Harvest Interval Star Rebel Emerald TH-819 8-Apr 18-Apr 28-Apr 8-May 18-May 28-May 7-Jun Breeding to meet commercial industry challenges • Short ripening periods and later flowering times – decreases frost risk, reducing usage of overhead irrigation, saving water and energy Breeding to meet commercial industry challenges • Increase fruit firmness – increases shelf life, long distant shipping – potential for mechanical harvest, saving labor New products, new businesses Ornamental Blueberries: Surround yourself with flavorful beauty!! Support staff, facilities, and equipment On-Farm Trials Blueberry Field Day Visitors from around the world Recent Georgia Blueberry Variety Releases VARIETY YEAR RELEASED PATENT Alapaha 2001 USPP 16,266 Ochlockonee 2002 USPP 17,300 Palmetto 2003 USPP 16,756 Rebel 2004 USPP 18,138 Camellia 2005 USPP 18,151 Vernon 2006 USPP 18,291 Blue SuedeTM 2007 USPP 21,222 Suziblue 2008 USPP 21,167 Southern Splendour 2009 USPP 22,692 Summer SunsetTM 2009 USPP 23,374 TitanTM 2010 USPPAF Georgia DawnTM 2011 USPPAF Summary • UGA blueberry breeding program is rich in history. • Blueberry variety development is a long term process. • Our breeding goals are aimed at solving everchanging grower needs. • In addition to commercial blueberries, and program has expanded to include an ornamental component too. • Varieties are having significant and immediate impact in Georgia, across the U.S. and around the world. Thanks for your support!!!!