The Next Big Thing

UF Breeding Program Releases Colossus, a Highly Versatile Southern Highbush Blueberry 

A new southern highbush blueberry cultivar is being released from the University of Florida blueberry breeding program. It is named Colossus, referring to its very large to jumbo-sized fruit (3.20 grams/20 mm), and it is targeted for North-Central Florida and some of the cooler areas of Central Florida using a deciduous system.

Colossus has several favorable production characteristics. It is later blooming, with a short bloom to ripening period, concentrated fruit ripening, and good early natural leafing. It has good early yield potential that fits well within the Florida market window. In North-Central Florida in 2019, 50% bloom was achieved by February 14, with 50% ripe fruit by April 7 and 90% ripe fruit by April 17. In Central Florida in 2019, there was 50% bloom by January 30, with 50% ripe fruit by March 27 and 90% ripe fruit by April 3. Yield in 2019 was between 6 and 12 pounds per plant, depending on the location of the trial site.

Colossus has very firm fruit (about 268 g/mm) that remains firm for an extended period, providing flexibility during harvesting. The fruit also has high Brix (sugar) levels (11.7%). The fruit should ideally be harvested when the desirable Brix/acid ratio is achieved, thus the fruit could be marketed as premium. Excellent fruit firmness, along with concentrated ripening, also means it can be machine harvested during April for the fresh market. However, because of the fruit size, timing, and possibility to market as premium fruit, the recommendation will be to hand harvest when possible, with the option of machine harvesting if needed.

Freeze protection in late January may be needed, particularly in North-Central Florida. Colossus also needs low to very low doses of hydrogen cyanamide for the best production results. More specific suggested rates will be provided after further trials next season.

by DR. PATRICIO MUNOZ, UF Assistant Professor, Blueberry Breeding and Genomics Lab

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