The traditional blueberry breeding process can easily take 15 years, Munoz says. He believes finding new ways to shorten this process benefits everyone, including producers and consumers.
By shortening the breeding process, the cultivars are able to be planted faster for producers, allowing the new, improved blueberries to be on the market faster for consumers.
“We need to keep moving with technology,” Munoz says. “Technology is advancing very fast … We need to try to take advantage of that and benefit it for stakeholders.”
Munoz says breeders are trying to use statistical and genomic research to find more accurate methods of selection in blueberry characteristics. In one line of research being done for the breeding process, he says researchers are attempting to predict how cultivars will perform by using genomic data from previous cultivars.
The researchers are trying to find what genes are associated with characteristics that are important in commercial blueberry production, including size, presentation and good flavor, he says. Along with this, researchers are attempting to take a gene from one cultivar and move it to a new cultivar to save time in the breeding process.
Munoz says it is important to point out that the traditional process for breeding blueberries is not being removed. “All these different things that we are doing are just more tools in the toolbox that we use as more modern breeders,” he concludes.
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