New Berry Honors Industry Trailblazer

UF’s Sentinel Cultivar Named After Florida Blueberry Pioneer Straughn


The University of Florida announced the release of a new southern highbush blueberry cultivar, Sentinel, named to honor Florida blueberry pioneer Alto Straughn. Per Dr. Patricio Munoz, UF assistant professor and head of the Blueberry Breeding and Genomics Program, “A ‘sentinel’ is a watcher or guardian. It is symbolic. We came up with the idea to name the blueberry after Alto because he ‘watched and guarded’ the blueberry breeding program for many years.”


Sentinel is a vigorous, high-yielding cultivar with a high consumer taste panel score, that has performed well in both north-central and central Florida. The following are some specifics from trial site evaluations:


  • Cultivar name: Sentinel (selection code FL11-155)

  • Region best adapted to: North-Central and Central Florida

  • Production system: performs well in deciduous system in both north-central and central FL; additional data to be gathered for evergreen system

  • Hydrogen cyanamide: not required

  • Machine Harvestability: no data yet; trials to be conducted in 2021

  • Per plant yields: 

    • North-Central FL (2018-2020): 8.8 – 21.0 lbs/plant, average 16.4 lbs/plant

    • Central FL (2018-2020): 5.6 – 10.9 lbs/plant, average 8.2 lbs/plant

  • Known disease susceptibility: none observed to date

  • Known insect damage susceptibility: moderate level of susceptibility to chilli thrips observed, similar to other cultivars

  • Fruit quality data:

    • Fruit firmness: 197 – 217 g/mm, average 207, a little higher than Emerald

    • Berry Weight: 2.0 – 2.9 grams, average 2.4 grams, similar to Emerald

    • Berry Diameter: 15.4 – 19.4 mm, average 17.6 mm, similar to Emerald

    • Brix: 10.0 – 12.5, average 11.5, similar to Emerald

    • Brix/Acid Ratio: 27.2 – 83, average 49.7, better than Emerald

    • Fruit scar: normal (small, dry), similar to Emerald

    • Wax/bloom: medium, similar to Emerald

    • Fruit defects: none

    • Flavor: high flavor score from taste panels (27.5). Higher than Emerald (19.9), very close to Kestrel (29.0).

    • Aroma: low

  • Cultivars with similar flowering time: 

    • North-Central FL – Optimus, Patrecia, Vireo, Magnus

    • Central FL – Optimus, Arcadia, Avanti, and Chickadee

  • Other information: High vigor, with large yield in the early part of the season. Good performance with no observed disease issues. 


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