Saturday, December 11, 2021

Cultivation of blueberries in history

The blueberry is a member of the heath family (Ericaceae) and is native to North America and East Asia. Wild Blueberries emerged on the desolate plain, aptly called The Barrens of Maine, Eastern Canada, and Quebec, following the retreat of the glaciers more than 10,000 years ago.

Blueberry cultivation is thought to have started when Native Americans burned wild stands of lowbush blueberries (V. angustifolium Ait. and V. myrtilloides Michx.) to tend them and to increase production. Wild blueberries were utilized for making medicines, dyes, and flavorings, as well as for direct consumption.

More advanced blueberry domestication began in New Hampshire in 1908 by the United States Department of Agriculture. Highbush blueberry cultivation and breeding programs, which began in the early 1900s, paved the way for the modern blueberry industry

In 1911 Dr F.V. Goville of the U.S.D.A. began a series of crosses among six native selections of three Vaccinium species (V. australe, V. corymbosum and V. angustifoliam). This work led to the release of the first named cultivar Pioneer in 1920.

By the 1930s and 1940s, blueberries were being grown in North Carolina and the West Coast, with further expansion occurring in subsequent decades.

Since 1960 and up to 1977 a further 15 Highbush Blueberry cultivars, have been released to the USA industry by various public agencies.

Since the 20th century American blueberry species and varieties have been spread to Europe. European cultivation of highbush blueberry began after 1920, in the Netherlands. In the following years cultivation spread to Poland and Germany, where the first European blueberry breeding products, crosses of Northern American were introduced.

However, highbush blueberry cultivation did not expand into southwestern European until the 1980s.
Cultivation of blueberries in history