Thanks to UF, The Florida Blueberry Industry Thrives!

blueberry-cluster-picsIn the last three decades, Florida has grown into a major blueberry producing state. As the public is becoming more aware of blueberries' health benefits, the blueberry industry in Florida has continued to grow yearly with increasing profits and blueberry production.

However, much of the credit belongs to the University of Florida. Its Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has dedicated much time and resources to developing a a robust and flavorful blueberry that will thrive in Florida's warm, sandy climate.

Since Florida harvests blueberries before any other part of the country, Florida blueberries can often be found all over the country before other states' blueberry seasons arrive. UF has helped Florida take advantage of that early head start by introducing varieties that will start producing berries sooner.

It's important to point out that these new varieties aren't genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They are the result of strategic breeding to produce a healthy and productive plant. To get to where the Florida blueberry industry is today comes from many years of collaboration between chemists, breeders, analysts, and geneticists. The result is a thriving blueberry industry worth $75 million every year.

Additionally, UF works closely with test markets and consumers. Flavor, color, consistency, and size are all important factors in producing delicious Florida blueberries. Then science is applied. Hundreds of different tests are run involving product companies, researchers, and horticulturists.

In a single day, a test subject may sample as many as 25 different types of blueberries. Who even knew there were 25 different types of blueberries in existence? The scientists at UF will take one variety of one plant and breed it with another variety to produce a stronger and hopefully tastier plant.