Blueberry Cultivar Research: It Takes Time

Clint Thompson Berries, Florida, Top Posts

By Clint Thompson

Pest and disease management of blueberries is a reality all Florida producers have to cope with every year. A potential solution is cultivar resistance. But that will take time, however, says University of Florida blueberry breeder Patricio Munoz.

“Pests and diseases are big problems for the state, but we are a state that’s very prone to these things,” Munoz said. “Unfortunately, developing something with pest and disease resistance is a long period of time. Some of these have started in the past, but we are not quite there yet to say we have blueberries that are resistant to all these pests and diseases. It’s a continuous process that’s going to take a long time, but we are working on it.”’

Blueberry research is even more challenging in Florida where there are various needs in the different regions of the state. A disease or pest that may be impacting producers in South Florida may not be as big of an issue in the northern part of the state. The sustainability future of the program may rest with Munoz’s research.

“We are putting in a lot of resources, a lot of effort to these areas. I have people working together with our colleagues in entomology and plant pathology. We are working towards understanding and developing cultivars that are resistant or tolerant. Highly tolerant is also very good. It’s going to take some time, still,” Munoz said.

“The traditional pipeline for developing a cultivar is 15 years. With the new technologies that we are using, we can decrease that to seven years. But it’s still a long time.”