The USDA plant researchers and berry breeders at Beltsville,MD. and Tifton,GA.have changed commercial berry growing in the world, by developing new hybrid bushes from native American berry plants. Thousands of acres of blueberry plants are productive growers of high quality, profitable blueberries of high quality with an extended shelf life. The University of Arkansas has released new hybrid, thornless blackberry bushes, and Cornell University has released excellent new raspberry cultivars.
Red raspberry plants are native to the U.S. and can be grown in most states; the Dorman Red raspberry developed was especially for growing in Southern states, where the humidity is high and temperatures hot in the Summer.
Like most food costs at grocery stores, blueberries strain the budget at $4.00 a pint. Plant TyTy Nursery blueberry bushes of your own in your garden and enjoy great savings and sweeter berries that are permitted to ripen on the home-grown blueberry bush to a taste and sweetness that was lost on grocery store berry shelves: blueberries that were picked too prematurely. Blueberry plants are easy to grow and guaranteed to live.
Blackberry hybrids have been dramatically improved by scientists at the University of Arkansas, where new cultivars have been available to Nurseries to sell through mailorder sales plants that grow large berries never seen or imagined before - some cultivars that are devoid of prickly thorns and have finally overcome the lack of flavor fault of old thornless blackberries cultivars. New blackberry plant cultivars load down with commercially profitable berries grown throughout the Southern States.
Berry Plant Improvement
Author, Patrick A Malcolm, Ty Ty Nursery
Many of the berries grown today commercially were recently hybridized from wild berry plants and bushes that grew as native plants on many continents since ancient historical times, such as the strawberry plants, blueberry plants, raspberry plants, and leading to the development of hybrid berries grown today such as the Boysenberry plant, Loganberry plant and Youngberry plants that are crosses between, blackberry, rubus spp., and the red raspberry, Rubus idaeus, the latter hybrid berry plants have only been in existence for a short time. Most modern blueberry hybrid bushes have only been available as USDA releases for about 50 years, and the enormous berry plant production has created huge agricultural fortunes for modern growers of raspberry plants, blueberry bushes, blackberry bushes and vines and endless fields of strawberry plants.
It is well known that the raspberry plant was used as food in ancient cultures, and parts of raspberry bushes were used to make a medicinal tea. The strawberry tree, Arbutus, was described by the Roman writer, Pliny, in the first century A.D. Pliny also described the strawberry ground plant that was being grown for food to be used as a medicinal tonic in the first century A.D. Many Romans were not enthusiastic about eating berries from vines that grew near the ground, because of their fear of plague contamination by rats and snakes. Strawberry fruits were depicted in European paintings during medieval times, and were cultivated in gardens during the 1300s in Europe. Henry the VIII, King of England purchased some strawberry fruits to eat in the year 1530.
During the 1600s a strawberry plant shipment was received in England from the American colonies and planted in backyard gardens. These Virginia strawberries, Fragaria virginiana, were tasty and delicious growing larger in size than the European strawberries. After growing side by side, the two species of strawberry plants inter-hybridized and grew into an improvement, remarkably, larger and sweeter berries than either of the parents. The offspring vines of these natural selections of strawberries were used to breed modern cultivar's that led to the extensive commercial growing of strawberry plants in the United States.
The noted founders of the first Botanical Garden in the United States, John Bartram in 1728 and was sent along with his son, William Bartram, in his book, Travels, were sent to explore the U.S. Southern colonies and to compile an inventory of useful native plant life. His encounters with “Brier vines.....rambling ....over fences and shrubs” records his familiarity with wild berry plants in the New World if the American colonies.
The first plant and tree nursery to be established in the United States was in Flushing, New York in the year 1737, by Willian Prince, who offered raspberry plants for sale, and in 177, he offered 500 white mulberry trees, Morus alba, for sale. General Oglethorpe in 1733 imported 500 white mulberry trees to Fort Frederica near Sea Island Georgia to suggest to the colonists, that there was an economical future for silk production. Mulberry trees lined the entrance to President Thomas Jefferson's home in Monticello, Virginia and were planted 20 feet apart.
The President of the U.S. Continental Congress, Henry Laurens, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, after the year 1755, introduced “ olives, limes, ginger, (lilies) ever-bearing strawberry, red raspberry and blue grapes from the South of France, and he also introduced “Apples, pears, plums, the white Chasselus grape, which bore abundantly.” The fruit that he raised from the olive tree was prepared and pickled “with a quality equal to those imported”.
George Washington in 1761 moved to his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home where his gardeners cultivated berry bushes and berry vines.
William Bartram in his book, Travels, pg. XV, reports that mulberry trees were planted along the Georgia Coast, extending from Savannah, Georgia to Augusta, Georgia, and in 1766, “Every landowner was required by Law to grow silkworms and produce silk, but only a colony of Germans at Ebenezer, just up the river from Savannah were successful with this crop.”
Near Mobile, Alabama, Bartram reported seeing in the year, 1773, “the forests, consist chiefly of Oak, Hiccory, (hickory) Ash, Sour Gum, (Nyssa sylvatica) Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua,) Beech, Mulberry, scarlet Maple, Black Walnut, Dogwood, Cornus Florida, Aescullus Pavia, Prunus Indica, Ptelea, and an Abundance of Chestnut, (Fagus castanea) on the hills with Pinus taeda and Pinus lutea.”
Bartram reported that, (page 306) “visiting a plantation at Jacksonbug, that he saw a large orchard of the “European mulberry Tree (Morus Alba) some of which were grafted on stocks of the native Mulberry (Morus rubra) that were used to grow silkworms” for the making of silk garments. Bartram also found in 1773 red mulberry trees growing at Wrightsville, Ga. 30 miles from Augusta, Ga.
Reports of William Bartram discovering “fruitful strawberry fields, that he later enjoyed eating cream and strawberries served by his very agreeable, female Indian host. William Bartram discovered various wild species related to blueberry bushes, “Vaccinium varietas”, growing in the Souther U.S. Colonies in great numbers
Berries occur naturally in most areas of the world, even in the Arctic areas of North America; blueberry plants being the most cold hardy. Berries are known as being small fruits, and in ancient civilizations and were largely ignored to cultivate as a garden plant in favor of larger fruits, except for use as a health remedy. The flavor and size of wild berries was unpredictable and extremely variable in quality. Wildlife animals and birds owed much of their existence to food coming from berry plants, vines and trees. Mulberry trees are perhaps the best known ancient, historical tree berry, but even though the Babylonians loved the berries, the Chinese grew silkworms on the leaves. A great Oriental Silk trade development then opened up the Western products to the East and resulted in Mulberry trees that can begin bearing red, black or white berries the first year of planting, and the berry yields of these is so phenomenal, that they became a treasured economic fixture for ancient farmers. Such inventive plant hybridizers as Luther Burbank, USDA George Darrow, W.T. Brightwell, Otis Woodard and Max Austin have left a giant heritage of agricultural progress and national riches to those who love to eat, blackberries, raspberries, blackberries, dewberries, blueberries, and tree mulberries. These hybrid berries offer freshness, aroma, taste, and high yields of antioxidants that fight, strokes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's memory loss and has transformed blueberries into a famous health fruit item; followed by blackberries, raspberries, and strawberry, because of the high berry content of ellagic acid, Vitamins and minerals.
Berries don't have an extended shelf life in grocery stores like most fruits, but they offer berry farmers great future profits from the expected high yields and early productiveness. Refrigeration improvement has extended marketability. Fast shipping improvements and harvesting advancements make berries a desirable inventory for stores to buy and sell. Pick-your-own fields of berries offer and opportunity for families to save on fruit buying and recreational enjoyment. Some pick-you-own berry operations will preharvest the fruit and berries for sale at roadside fruit and berry stands and at farmer's markets. Wildlife animals and birds sustain their growth by feeding on berries from the wild, native berry patches.