Planning a World-Class Blueberry Lab

To build a better blueberry, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is building a better blueberry lab in Gainesville. By mid-2022, we expect to complete U.S. higher education’s premier blueberry breeding headquarters.

What we’re currently calling the Blueberry Building is scheduled to break ground this month. It will be the hub for breeding the cultivars that keep you in business and a step ahead of your international competitors. 

We’ve long had the best minds in blueberry breeding. We need a place to put them. 


Patricio Muñoz has doubled the size of his lab team in his four years as the university’s lead blueberry breeder, and he projects that in the next two to three years it will grow to triple what he started with in 2017.

A world-class facility will bring us world-class status. We’re going to build the blueberry equivalent of the UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab, which immediately distinguished us as among the nation’s best in the science of pollinators and the support center for a burgeoning backyard beekeeping movement.

Before we even move a shovel full of dirt, the vision of the Blueberry Building is attracting more minds. Muñoz recruited two top graduate students to join his team by showing them blueprints as well as blueberries, the plans to provide the tools to go from conception to creation.

The $4 million, 9,500-square-foot structure will build in collaboration and efficiency that’s been lost in work from home or in staggered shifts imposed by the current cramped quarters. It gives us space to pick up the pace for micropropagation. That will get new cultivars into your fields faster.

It won’t be the first UF/IFAS facility that blueberries built. Alto Straughn’s generosity made possible the construction a decade ago of the Extension professional development center that bears his name. The new building will house breakthroughs in breeding. It will also have a large lecture hall and laboratory classrooms to continue preparing College of Agricultural and Life Sciences students to become top professionals.

We have a national crisis in agricultural science infrastructure. A study done for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities last year estimates the national need for upgrades at $11.5 billion. 

Government assistance is unlikely to meet that need. The Blueberry Building will be funded largely by royalties. We can do that because we have one of the nation’s most aggressive royalty reinvestment rates. 

It’s a case of innovation begetting more innovation. The more successful we are, the more we can invest in your future success. 

By J. Scott Angle

[email protected]


Scott Angle is the University of Florida’s Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources and leader of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

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