University of Florida Building Blueberry Businesses

The Florida blueberry industry got its start in the 1970s when the University of Florida (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences developed the first Southern Highbush blueberry plants grown commercially in the state. The industry’s growth has been dramatic and spectacular. In the 1980s, the blueberry industry in Florida was worth less than $500,000. Today, the state’s industry is worth an estimated $82 million dollars per year.

USDA has supported UF’s research on blueberry production over the course of 20 years. The UF team has developed blueberry varieties that thrive in Florida’s climate and soils and produce the best quality berry. Scientists select for the best genetic traits to help resist diseases, pests, heat, and other stress factors. The breeders developed blueberry cultivars with a focus on factors such as machine harvestability, fruit quality, and yield.

Florida blueberries are now available earlier than berries grown in other parts of the country, which allows growers to command higher prices during the beginning of the season. The scientists collaborate with breeders and growers to test new varieties on farms throughout the state.

To protect Florida farmers, UF patents and licenses blueberry varieties so that they can use UF varieties a few years before international growers. UF’s research and outreach has helped the state’s blueberry growers stay profitable and blossom.

Retaking The Field Volume 5 “Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit” explores how federally funded agricultural research strengthens farmers and ranchers’ bottomline by reducing costs and risks, increasing profits, and laying the groundwork for new products and industries. With powerful examples from universities across the country, it describes how research can generate outsized economic benefits that extends for decades. View The Issue
Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit Click to download report

More Stories from the community

Capitalizing on Cranberries

Both cranberries and blueberries are botanically part of the Vaccinium species. The U.S. Vaccinium industry’s domestic wholesale value exceeds $2 billion per year. Although production and consumption is growing worldwide, the growth of U.S. production has slowed in the past five years. Producers have not yet benefited from advanced breeding technologies used in other crops, which limits their ability to grow new varieties with improved fruit quality and market value.

Read More
Sequencing Solutions: Revolutionizing Understanding of Antimicrobial Resistance with Genome Analysis

Antimicrobial resistant-microbes (AMRs) pose a serious threat to public health. AMRs are found in people, animals, food, and the environment. They spread from animals to people, and from person to person. To solve this problem, Dr. Paul Morley and his team are studying the genetic makeup of all of the organisms throughout the environments involved in animal (e.g. beef and dairy cattle) food production, not just one isolated bacteria at a time.

Read More