Celebrating the 100th anniversary of highbush blueberry domestication - the contribution by Frederick Vernon Coville and Elizabeth Coleman White
The first shipment of highbush blueberries resulting from controlled crosses and grown under managed cultivation occurred in 1916. Two individuals, Frederick Vernon Coville and Elizabeth Coleman White are credited with the domestication of blueberries. Frederick Coville, born 1867 in Preston, N.Y., graduated from Cornell University in 1887 and in 1888 began a 50-year career as Botanist and Chief Botanist at the US Dept. of Agriculture. He was botanist on the 1890 Geological Survey of Arkansas, 1891 Death Valley Expedition and was the youngest member of the famous Harriman Expedition to Alaska in 1899. Some of his other contributions were: standardized plant names, Desert Botanical Laboratory, National Herbarium, National Research Committee of National Geographic Magazine and National Arboretum in Washington. Coville was concerned that his children (Stanley 11, Katherine 9, Cabot 3 and Fredrick 1), growing up in Washington D.C., would never learn the rural skills that he had acquired in his childhood. In 1905, a friend told him about a 40-acre farm for sale near Greenfield, New Hampshire which was purchased for $ 400. Blueberries, both highbush and lowbush, flourished in the area. Less than a year after coming to Greenfield, his interest was attracted to blueberry culture. After extensive observations, the first of many selections was made in July of 1908. This important selection, 'Brooks', was named after the owner of the farm where it was found. Between 1906 and 1910, the soil requirements, cultural practices, and techniques required for cultivar development were determined. These studies were published as Experiments in Blueberry Culture, US Dept. of Agriculture Bull. 193, Nov. 15, 1910, and in National Geographic Magazine as Taming the Wild Blueberry, Feb. 1911. The cooperation between Frederick Coville and Elizabeth White, which led to the release of the first 15 cultivars, began in 1911 and continued until his death in 1938. The contributions of Elizabeth White are summarized from a 1952 recording made about the start of the blueberry industry.
Mainland, C.M. and Ehlenfeldt, M.K. (2017). Celebrating the 100th anniversary of highbush blueberry domestication - the contribution by Frederick Vernon Coville and Elizabeth Coleman White. Acta Hortic. 1180, 135-142
history, botanist, serendipity, cultural requirements, soils, pH, propagation, breeding, cultivars, Whitesbog, N.J