Blueberries: transitioning from wild to cultivated production

Blueberry production in Canada is changing from "wild" production to a more intensive cultivated system for several reasons: for greater yield and better quality and to introduce varieties best suited to Canada's cool climate. To meet this demand, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists are working to develop well adapted, high yielding, cool climate berry genotypes together with an environmentally sustainable system for crop production.

There already exists at the AAFC Research Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland, a germplasm collection, including wild clones and hybrids. With this germplasm, there's an opportunity for researchers to evaluate and select genotypes that are well adapted to adverse environmental conditions (such as late frost, drought susceptible soils and cool climates) as well as genotypes that are resistant to insect pests like the blueberry leaftier. Identifying varieties that are resistant to leaftier infestation will reduce growers' reliance on insecticides, save costs and resources (time, labour, fuel and insecticides), and provide a marketing advantage to growers who can sell the berries as "insecticide free."

The blueberry research is vital to the economic development of the agricultural sector in Newfoundland and other cool climate areas in Canada, because blueberries are readily adapted to cool climate environments and they provide a high value crop in regions, such as Newfoundland, where agricultural land is limited and relatively few other crops are adapted.

For more information contact the project principal investigator: Dr. Samir C. Debnath

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