NCCC_old212: Small Fruit and Viticulture Research

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NCCC_old212: Small Fruit and Viticulture Research

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Need, importance, and technical feasibility: Small fruits, including strawberries, blueberries, table grapes, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and currants, are high value horticultural crops used in both fresh and processed fruit markets. The commodity value of these crops in U.S. production in 2010-2014 averaged over $6 billion (USDA National Ag Statistics, 2015). Winegrapes provide an additional $4.2 billion. In addition, grower profitability can still be realized with small plantings and relatively small investment inputs, thus making small fruits a suitable venture for many small farms. At least one commercial berry species is grown in every state. Despite high profitability and considerable grower interest, most states have less than 1,000 acres in small fruits. Few states have more than one berry crop researcher, nor do many states have researchers with responsibilities solely for berry crops. Due to the wide dispersal of berry crop researchers, it is critical that a venue be provided that fosters coordination and collaboration of small fruit horticulturists. Such collaboration is even more important as federal granting agencies require multi state, multi institutional, and multi-disciplinary approaches for successful funding.

Advantages: Collaboration across states is needed to: 1) evaluate and exchange germplasm in a systematic way 2) develop protocols for testing and evaluating new selections 3) determine adaptability of new cultivars to environment and production systems (including climate change, extended season, out of season, organic) of new selections and cultivars 4) determine if new selections and cultivars are resistant to insect, weed, and disease pressure across a representative climatic host range 5) share research plans to avoid duplication and inefficient use of resources, and to foster multi institutional research.

Impacts: The interaction of researchers in NCCC-212 enables exchange of up-to-date information on the latest research trends as well as problems encountered in regions and states. These interactions have resulted in improved small fruit germplasm using classical breeding and molecular linkages (Clark, 2013; Clark, and Moore, 2013; Clark et al., 2014; Finn et al., 2014; Finn et al., 2014a; Finn et al., 2014b; Jamieson, 2014), alternative production practices including novel fruits, extended season and sustainable agriculture systems (Harkins et al., 2013; Harkins et al., 2014; Larco et al., 2013; Larco et al., 2013a; Larco et al., 2014; Lowe et al., 2014; Menzel et al., 2014), a clearer understanding of the health value and flavor of berries (Chambers et al., 2014; Gilbert et al., 2014; Hummer et al., 2014), the identification of commodity-specific pest and new pest control strategies (Basnet et al., 2014; Hassan et al., 2013; Ho and Tzanetakis, 2014; Jamieson et al., 2014; Kim et al., 2014; Martin, and Tzanetakis, 2013; Martin et al., 2013; Quito-Avila et al., 2014; Quito-Avila et al., 2013; Rojas et al., 2013), discovery of underlying mechanisms in small fruit productivity (Bryla, and Scagel, 2014; Cavender et al., 2014; Kennedy et al., 2013; Kennedy et al., 2014; Schreiner et al., 2013; Strik, and Buller, 2014), and improved storage and shelf life (Blaker and Olmstead, 2014).


  1. Develop small fruit germplasm through cooperative breeding and evaluation programs
  2. Develop practices for small fruit production tailored for climatic and market needs of growers
  3. Explore the association between fruit constituents and human health impacts

Procedures and Activities

Objective 1. Develop small fruit germplasm and genetic markers that are adapted for specific needs such as season extension, efficient water use, organic production, increased storage life, increased flavor, ecological adaptation, through cooperative breeding and evaluation programs. Efforts will be fostered by the exchange of germplasm and cooperative studies to evaluate molecular marker selection, productivity, adaptability, and fruit characteristics of strawberry, blueberry, table grape, blackberry and other species. Past examples: Germplasm exchange has occurred among the following programs that, in turn, evaluate genotypes for specific traits: J. Clark, AR, thornless fruiting blackberry (Clark, 2013, Finn et al., 2014, Finn et al., 2014a); primocane fruiting blackberry (Clark et al., 2014); sweet strawberry (Finn et al., 2014b), resistance to angular leaf stop diseases of strawberry (Jamieson et al., 2014); phytochemicals in fruits of Hawaiian wild cranberry relatives (Hummer et al., 2014), Asian germplasm influence in American berry crops (Hummer et al., 2013), genetic and genomic resources in black raspberry (Bassil et al., 2014). Each of these is an important trait, yet no individual researcher has the capacity to screen for all of them. Moreover, development of molecular markers and maps have been the outcome of successful collaborative efforts among NCCC212 members. Evaluation of germplasm across geographic locations to evaluate and confirm adaptability has occurred with Bassil (OR), Hummer (OR), Dosset (BC), Fin (OR), Fernandez (NC), (Bassil et al., 2014), Olmstead (FL) and Finn (OR) (Olmstead, and C.E. Finn, 2014). New projects with cross geographic collaboration for environmental and extended season adaptability will be started with PIs and collaborators on these grants are current members of NCCC212.

Objective 2. Develop new or modified practices for small fruit production. These include off-season production of raspberries and strawberries, strawberry and red raspberry protected cultivation, strawberry plasticulture, integrated pest management and other systems (such as organic or sustainable), using reduced pesticide applications and enhancement of soil health, and identification of viruses and virus vectors in caneberries. Innovations in pruning and trellising of grapes, blackberries and blueberries will also be evaluated through cooperative multi-state research projects. Past examples: Collaboration, information exchange, joint planning and parallel experiments have occurred among researchers exploring mulch and fertilizer effect on organic blueberry production (OR, ON) (Larco et al., 2013; Larco et al., 2013a; Larco et al., 2014), breeding highbush blueberry cultivars adapted to machine harvest for the fresh market (OR, FL) (Olmstead and Finn, 2014), identifying viruses affecting blackberry productivity (OR, AR)(Hassan et al., 2013), control of virus diseases in berry crops (AR, OR) (Martin and Tzanetakis, 2013), high risk strawberry viruses by region in the United States and Canada (AR, OR) (Martin and Tzanetakis, 2014).

Objective 3. Explore how the fruit constituents of small fruits impact human health and ways in which small fruit can be tailored for specific applications, and flavor enhanced. Medical research has indicated that small fruits have health benefits beyond those previously documented for the nutrients vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber. Anthocyanins, the water soluble pigments found in small fruits, and other phenolic compounds, such as ellagic acid from strawberries and raspberries and pterostilbene and resveratrol from grapes and blueberries, have been found to act as effective antioxidants in the human body. These constituents can be affected by germplasm, environment, and postharvest handling. Past collaborations: Chambers et al., 2014; Gilbert et al., 2014; Hummer et al., 2014; Blaker, and Olmstead, 2014, have engaged in separate and cooperative studies of antioxidant capacity, phenolic content, vitamin C, dietary fiber, etc. to determine bioactive potential of berry cultivars. Important discoveries on the strawberry flavor and sensory perception were made by Schwietermann (FL) (Schwietermann et al., 2014).

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Coordination of Activities: Major concerns of berry growers, processors, marketers and scientists will be identified and discussed, and a multistate focus will be brought to bear on priority issues. This will lead to more efficient use of public funds when developing research, teaching and extension programs to address these concerns.
  • Collaborative Research Projects: Exchange of information and ideas, often before formal publication, is an important committee activity. The interaction of group members leads to collaborative projects, stronger grant proposals, more robust publications, and new sources of specialized information. Ideas generated from one state project can be tested regionally and nationally. Such evaluations also enable innovations to be modified for site-specific use or to fit existing technology.
  • Multi-state and Regional Germplasm Evaluation: Multi-state efforts in germplasm evaluation are a critical part of the NCCC-212 project. Standardized evaluation protocols and multiple site evaluation (environment X genotype studies) will provide important information on adaptability and cultivar performance.
  • Information Exchange: Members of NCCC-212 cover a range of specialized disciplines, including breeding, molecular biology, whole plant physiology, postharvest physiology, pathology, entomology, ecology, production. Members are from industry, land grant colleges, and USDA, and are from the United States and Canada. This broad spectrum of participants encourages dialogue on key issues and cross-exchange of scientific viewpoints. Committee members often participate in the Small Fruit and Viticulture working group of the American Society for Horticultural Science, and the Southern Small Fruit Workers group, which helps further extend the influence of NCCC-212 activities.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Although this is a regional research project, many of the participants are actively involved in extension activities. Their research results and production recommendations are disseminated through their state cooperative extension service and in the case of our international collaborators, through their outreach organizations. Examples of national venues for presentations to growers groups include, the North American Strawberry Growers Association (NASGA), North American Blueberry Council, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, North American Raspberry and Blackberry Growers Association, Southern Small Fruits Research Consortium, North American Strawberry Researchers Conference, and North American Blueberry Research and Extension Workers Conference. Additionally, information will be made available by technical members through many regional and state growers meetings such as, the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Exposition, Florida Strawberry Industry, Arkansas-Oklahoma Horticulture conference, the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Show, Southeastern US Fruit and Vegetable Conference, NC strawberry Growers Association, Florida Strawberry Growers Association, New England Fruit and Vegetable Conference, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention, Oregon Berry Growers Conference and the Florida Horticultural Society meeting. Scientists in these meetings and other venues will provide insight and recommendations for research priorities through presentations, field days, newsletters, email, and websites on changes in legislation, upcoming issues, management of production, fertility, insects, diseases, frost protection, postharvest, and germplasm performance in uniform field trials. Some examples of format and opportunities for information transfer are: NC state web portal for blackberry and raspberry, field days in OH, NY, AR, MI, NC, FL, WA, OR, AL for grape, strawberry, raspberry and blackberry growers. Members will contribute to newsletters for Southern small fruit consortium, NARBA and NASGA and state extension newsletters. Members will also participate in annual and semi annual meetings with presentations of research, interaction with growers for the NC strawberry growers association, NASGA, NARBA, Muscadine, Blueberry, etc. The general public will have access to information through magazine articles, bulletins and web sites regarding suitable germplasm for home gardens, nutritional links, and quality attributes.


Standard governance involving the annual election of a chair-elect

Literature Cited

Basnet, S. 2014. Biology and pest status of brown marmorated stink bug (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) in Virginia vineyards and raspberry plantings. M.S. thesis, Virginia Tech Blacksburg.

Bassil, N.V., B. Gilmore, K. Hummer, M.Dossett, R. Agunga, E. Rhodes, T. Mockler, J.C. Scheeresns, S. Filikchkin, Klewers, M. Peterson, C.E., Finn, J. Graham, J. Lee, F. Fernández-Fernández, G. Fernandez, S.J. Yun and P. Perkins-Veazie. 2014. Genetic and genomic resources in black raspberry Acta Hort. 1048:19-24.

Blaker, K.M. and J.W. Olmstead. 2014. Stone cell frequency and cell size variation of crisp and standard texture southern highbush blueberry fruit. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 139:553-557.

Bryla, D.R. and C.F. Scagel. 2014. Salinity limits to shoot and root growth and nutrient uptake in ‘Honeoye’ strawberry. J. Hort. Sci. Biotechnol. 89:458?470.

Cavender, G., M. Liu, D. Hobbs, B. Frei, B. Strik and Y. Zhao. 2014. Effects of Different Organic Weed Management Strategies on the Physicochemical, Sensory, and Antioxidant Properties of Machine-Harvested Blackberry Fruits. J. Food Sci. 79(10), S2107–S2116

Chambers, A.H., J. Pillet, A. Plotto, J. Bai, V.M. Whitaker and K. Folta. 2014. Identification of a strawberry flavor gene using an integrated genetic-genomic-analytical chemistry approach. BMC Genomics 15:217 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-217.

Clark, J.R. 2013. Osage thornless blackberry. HortScience 48:909-912.

Clark, J.R., K. Demchak, C.E. Finn, J.D. Lowe, K.W. Pomper, and S.B. Crabtree. 2014. ‘Black Magic’™ (APF-77) primocane-fruiting blackberry. J. Amer. Pom. Soc. 68:163-170.

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Finn, C.E., B.C. Strik, B. M. Yorgey, T.A. Mackey, P.P. Moore, M. Dossett, C. Kempler, R.R. Martin, A.R. Jamieson, and G.J. Galletta. 2014a. ’Sweet Sunrise’ strawberry. HortScience. 49:1088-1092.

Finn, C.E., J.W. Olmstead, J.F. Hancock, and D.M. Brazelton. 2014b. Welcome to the party! Blueberry breeding mixes private and public with traditional and molecular to create a vibrant new cocktail. Acta Horticulturae 1017:51-62.

Gilbert, J.L., J.W. Olmstead, T.A. Colquhoun, L.A. Levin, D.G. Clark, and H.R. Moskowitz. 2014. Consumer-assisted selection of blueberry fruit quality traits. HortScience 49:864-873.

Harkins, R.H., Strik, B.C., Bryla, D.R. 2013. Weed management practices for organic production of trailing blackberry. I. Plant growth and early fruit production. HortScience 48:1139?1144.

Harkins, R.H., B.C. Strik, and D.R. Bryla. 2014. Weed management practices for organic production of trailing blackberries: II. Accumulation and loss of plant biomass and nutrients. HortScience 49:35?43.

Hassan, M., Sabanadzovic, S., Keller, K.E., Martin, R.R. and Tzanetakis, I.E. 2013. A putative new Emaravirus associated with blackberry yellow vein disease. Petria 22:357-361.

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Hummer, K.E., J.R. Ballington, C.E. Finn, and T.M. Davis. 2013. Asian germplasm influence in American berry crops. HortScience 48(9):1090-1094.

Hummer, K.E., R. Durst, F. Zee, A. Atnip, and M. Giusti. Phytochemicals in fruits of Hawaiian wild cranberry relatives. 2014. J. Sci. Food and Ag. 94:1530-1536

Jamieson, A.R., Hildebrand, P.D., and Renderos, W.E., Fillmore, S.A.E. 2014. Resistance to angular leafspot disease of strawberry: Influence of seedling age. Acta Hort. 1049:187-191.

Jamieson. A.R. 2014. ‘AAC Lila’ strawberry. HortScience 49:833-834.

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Kim, S-H S., A.D. Tripodi, D.T. Johnson, and A.L. Szalanski. 2014. Molecular diagnostics of Drosophila suzukii (Diptera: Drosophilidae) using PCR-RFLP. Short Comm. J. Econ. Entomol. 107 (3): 1292-1294.

Larco, H., B.C. Strik, D.R. Bryla, and D.M. Sullivan. 2013. Mulch and fertilizer management practices for organic production of highbush blueberry: II. Impact on plant and soil nutrients during establishment. HortScience 48:1484-1495.

Larco, H., Strik, B.C., Bryla, D.R., Sullivan, D.M. 2013a. Mulch and fertilizer management practices for organic production of highbush blueberry. I. Plant growth and allocation of biomass during establishment. HortScience 48:1250?1261.

Larco, H., D.M. Sullivan, B. Strik, and D. Bryla. 2014. Mulch effects on highbush blueberry under organic management. Acta Hort. 1018:375-382.

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Martin, R.R. and Tzanetakis, I.E. 2013. High risk strawberry viruses by region in the United States and Canada: Implications for certification, nurseries and fruit production. Plant Dis. 97:1358-1362.

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Martin, R.R. and Tzanetakis I.E. 2014. Control of virus diseases of berry crops. Advances in Virus Research, in press.

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Olmstead, J.W. and C.E. Finn. 2014. Breeding highbush blueberry cultivars adapted to machine harvest for the fresh market. HortTechnology 24:290-294.

Quito-Avila, D.F., Ibarra, M.A., Alvarez, R.A., Espinoza, L., Ratti, M.F., Peralta, E.L. and Martin, R.R. 2013. First report of Raspberry bushy dwarf virus in the Andean blackberry (Rubus glaucus) in central Ecuador. Plant Dis. 97:1003.

Rojas, P., Almada, R.D., Sandoval, C., Keller, K.E., Martin, R.R. and Caligari, P.D.S. 2013. Occurrence of aphidborne viruses in southernmost South American populations of Fragaria chilensis ssp. chiloensis. Plant Pathology 62:428-435.

Schreiner, R.P., Lee, J., and Skinkis, P.A. 2013. N, P, and K supply to Pinot noir grapevines: impact on vine nutrient status, growth, physiology, and yield. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. 64:26-38. [Selected as AJEV issue highlight article March 2013]

Schwietermann, M., T. Colquhoun, E. Jaworski, L. Bartoshuk, J. Gilbert, D. Tieman, A. Odabasi, H. Moskowitz, K. Folta, H. Klee, C. Sims, V.M. Whitaker and D. Clark. 2014. Strawberry flavor: diverse chemical compositions, a seasonal influence, and effects on sensory perception. PLoS ONE 9: e88446. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088446.

Strik, B.C. and G. Buller. 2014. Nitrogen fertilization rate, sawdust mulch, and pre-plant incorporation of sawdust – long-term impact on yield, fruit quality, and soil and plant nutrition in ‘Elliott’. Acta Hort. 1017:269-275.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Agassiz Research and Development Centre, Canada, Naturipe Berry Growers, Pacific Berry Breeding, LLC, University of Guelph, USDA-ARS, USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR, USDA-ARS/Oregon, West Virginia
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