The breeding program is a cooperative effort between the USDA-ARS (presently Michael Hardigan and blueberry breeder TBD) and OSU (led by Scott Lukas). This is a long-standing cooperation between the USDA and OSU that started in 1917. The objective of this program is to develop better berry crop varieties for the Pacific Northwest.

Growers in the Pacific Northwest require cultivars with high fruit quality that are adapted to the climate, tolerant to pests, and that serve the needs of processed and/or fresh markets. For blueberry, we are additionally interested in potential for mechanical harvest and cold storage for fresh markets, tolerance to shock and other viruses, and tolerance to diseases such as mummy berry. For thornless blackberry cultivars, the goal is to reduce potential for thorn contamination in machine-harvested fruit. Caneberries intended for processed markets must be adapted to machine harvest. Strawberry cultivars must have good texture and color for processing and shelf life for fresh market.

We have various cooperative breeding plots of strawberry, black and red raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and hardy kiwifruit planted at the NWREC. While our blueberry and kiwifruit plantings are more long-lived, we rotate through our strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry plantings more quickly as selections from the breeding program are evaluated and rejected or kept for future evaluations in new plantings.

USDA Plant Breeders:

  • TBD -- blueberries and strawberries
  • Michael Hardigan -- blackberries and raspberries

New Cultivar Releases:

  • 'Celestial', 'Thunderhead', and 'Zodiac' blackberries
  • 'Eclipse', 'Galaxy', and 'Twilight' fresh market blackberries (read more about them here)
  • 'Columbia Star', 'Columbia Giant', and 'Columbia Sunrise' blackberry
  • 'Vintage' and 'Kokanee' red raspberry
  • 'Charm', 'Sweet Sunrise', and 'Marys Peak' strawberry
  • 'Perpetua' and 'Mini Blues' blueberry

For recently revised extension publications offering information on the latest cultivars of strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry studied here at the NWREC, area growers, and other Pacific Northwest Universities, go to the OSU extension publication catalog. Click on 'Agriculture', then 'Berries and Grapes'.

Industry members are invited to observe field plantings and taste advanced selections at the NWREC at our annual Strawberry and Caneberry (raspberry and blackberry) Open Houses and Blueberry Field Day – the dates of which are chosen to coincide with the fruiting season. We also take frozen fruit samples to industry meetings throughout the winter to solicit industry input (in cooperation with OSU's Dept. Food Science & Technology).