Growing Futures

Breeding new blueberries

Breeding blueberries to extend the season

New blueberry cultivars that extend harvest season support access to overseas markets

The reported health benefits of blueberries are fuelling demand for the superfruit around the world, and Plant & Food Research is breeding new cultivars suited to local conditions and New Zealand’s export markets.

Blueberries account for 90% of New Zealand’s berry export revenue. 2016 estimates put domestic sales at $18 million and exports at $41.4 million, primarily to Australia. New Zealand’s later growing season, and new cultivars that have extended the harvesting season up to six weeks longer than overseas cultivars, have provided New Zealand growers with access to a market window in Australia.

Increased awareness of the health benefits of blueberries are also increasing demand in key Asian markets.

Since 1989, Plant & Food Research has released 25 cultivars from the blueberry breeding programme. The focus has been primarily on extending the harvest season, as well as meeting consumer preferences for large fruit size, good colour, texture and taste, and improved yield.

The blueberry breeding programme is funded by Plant & Food Research with additional support from the blueberry industry.

Created: September 2017

Share this impact case study: