Raspberry and blackberry breeding at Cornell University

C. Weber
“Bush crop” plantings were established with the opening of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (now Cornell AgriTech) in 1882 in Geneva, NY. The first suite of red raspberry cultivars from controlled crosses (‘Donboro’, ‘Louboro’, ‘Marlative’ and ‘Marldon’) was released in 1908 using ‘Loudon’, ‘Marlboro’, and ‘Superlative’ as parents. In total, 42 red, black and purple raspberry and 3 blackberry cultivars have been released with at least 12 currently available commercially in the US and internationally. ‘Heritage’ primocane red raspberry (1969 release) is a foundational cultivar in modern breeding programs and important commercially in the US and Chile. ‘Jewel’ and ‘Bristol’ black raspberry (1934 and 1973 releases, respectively) have been the mainstay of the eastern US industry for decades. ‘Prelude’ and ‘Encore’ (1998 releases) and the current ‘Crimson’ series (‘C. Giant’, ‘C. Night’, ‘C. Treasure’) (2010s) are widely grown through the Midwest and northeastern North American production region. ‘Darrow’ blackberry (1958 release) was once widely grown and is a foundational cultivar in the University of Arkansas breeding program. The current breeding era includes the utilization of molecular technologies including genetic marker/map development and marker assisted selection and RNAseq for the study of resistance to root rot caused by Phytophthora rubi, and genome wide association studies (GWAS) for the prickle-free trait. In black raspberry, the transfer of the prickle-free trait and primocane fruiting from red raspberry has been accomplished through interspecific hybridization and backcross breeding. The focus for new cultivars is on fruit quality traits (high flavor, large size, stable color and firm flesh) and improved harvestability traits (open plant architecture, upright and prickle-free canes, and high fruit number) to increase production efficiency and yield. Adaptation to both perennial and substrate production in primocane and floricane black and red raspberry and blackberry in a genetic background of cold hardy germplasm with broad resistance to soil borne diseases is addressed through a combination of substrate and open field selection, perennial high tunnel evaluation, and collaboration with commercial partners.
Weber, C. (2024). Raspberry and blackberry breeding at Cornell University. Acta Hortic. 1388, 65-72
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2024.1388.9
raspberry, blackberry, breeding, cultivar, genetics

Acta Horticulturae