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.
To improve cranberries and blueberries based on producer and consumer interests, North Carolina State University leads a nationwide, transdisciplinary team that includes researchers from Washington State University, University of Florida, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Georgia. Funded by USDA and others, the team’s goal is to leverage genomic resources to develop new cultivars with enhanced quality and attributes (e.g. taste, appearance, disease resistance, nutritional benefits).
Scientists are collaborating to reveal the genetic factors
and characteristics that influence fruit quality. The team
is exploring genes, traits, and tools in order to develop
new DNA tests that will help them speed up selection
of varieties with better traits. They are also working to
improve production efficiency, handling, processing, and
By discovering new approaches to improve yields, efficiency, and market value, the team is helping farmers and strengthening the future of our nation’s cranberry and blueberry industries.