[NAFEX] Fwd: Mississippi Blues -- Blueberries, That Is

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Fri Jan 4 10:44:12 EST 2008

Begin forwarded message:

From: ARS News Service <NewsService at ars.usda.gov>
Date: January 4, 2008 4:16:14 AM PST
To: ARS News subscriber <lonrom at hevanet.com>
Subject: Mississippi Blues -- Blueberries, That Is
Reply-To: ARS News Service <NewsService at ars.usda.gov>

Mississippi Blues… Blueberries, That Is

ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Jan Suszkiw, (301) 504-1630, jan.suszkiw at ars.usda.gov
January 4, 2008
--View this report online, plus photos and related stories, at 

Combining tenacity with taste, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) 
scientists in Poplarville, Miss., have bred three new blueberry 
cultivars that can take the heat of growing in the South while offering 
high yields of plump, phytonutrient-rich fruit.

Dixieblue, Gupton and DeSoto are the latest offerings from a blueberry 
breeding program begun in 1971 at the ARS Southern Horticultural 
Laboratory in Poplarville, Miss.

With the exception of the so-called rabbiteye varieties, locally grown 
blueberries were nonexistent in Mississippi 30 years ago, primarily 
because of that Gulf Coast state's heat, humidity, abundant insects and 
occasional late-spring freezes. But when Hurricane Camille wiped out 
the region's tung oil industry in 1969, ARS researchers went to work 
developing blueberries as a viable alternative crop.

Thirteen blueberry cultivars and 2,500 acres later, the ARS Poplarville 
lab is busier than ever furnishing Mississippi's burgeoning blueberry 
industry with heat-tolerant plants whose fruit embodies the flavor, 
firmness and shelf life that consumers and processors desire.

Take Gupton, for example. In storage tests conducted by ARS 
horticulturist Donna Marshall, the cultivar's berries remained plump 
and juicy for more than 30 days under normal refrigeration.

DeSoto, a new rabbiteye variety developed by ARS plant geneticist 
Stephen Stringer, has potential to extend the Gulf Coast rabbiteye 
season by up to three weeks. In Mississippi, this usually ends around 
the first week of July, according to Stringer. DeSoto's berries also 
don't suffer from splitting, which bursts open the fruit after it 
becomes waterlogged, such as from an afternoon rain shower.

Dixieblue, a highbush cultivar, yields light-blue, medium-sized berries 
with a slightly flattened shape. Besides breeding and storage tests, 
the Poplarville team's research includes determining the best time to 
harvest berries for optimal flavor and elevated levels of antioxidants, 
especially anthocyanins and phenolics.

Read more about this research in the January 2008 issue of Agricultural 
Research magazine, available online at:

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research 


This is one of the news reports that ARS Information distributes to 
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Service at NewsService at ars.usda.gov.

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ARS News Service, Information Staff, Agricultural Research Service
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Phone (301) 504-1636 | fax (301) 504-1486

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