Fruit Crops

My Botanical Data Collection of Potential Blueberry Releases 2018


Here are some of the images to capture the overview of botanical data I collected for potential blueberry releases for my boss. Now, obviously I cannot give any specific information. That would be unethical. This is just to show some of the stuff I have collected. It is detail-work, but great fun if you are into that sort of thing. I learned a lot too, based on reading many previous plant patent releases from various sources including the University of Georgia breeding program.

Most of these images were previously posted on Twitter the day the work was being done. The images are not high quality as they were snapped with my cheap cell phone but they give you an idea of what I was doing. Placing them all here is a good way to showcase the entire year in one location.

I began this year’s collection in February when the blueberries began to flower. Did you know there was such variation in blueberry flower color?





Look how tiny these little white flowers were!







Some of the flowers have a very faint, light perfume.



The honeybees enjoyed the flowers and we worked around each other all morning.


My initial measurements were taken in the field because it was an incredibly, beautiful day.


After working in the field, I collected data from the blueberry plants in the lab.


Check out the anthers and filaments of the stamens (male) on the blueberry flower.










I was so excited to be able to collect some pollen grains! My first time.


I sure am glad I enjoyed taking Plant Taxonomy class at the University of Arkansas with Dr. E Smith. Not only do I still carry around my “flash cards” (can you say PLANT NERD), but I am now able to put all of that to good use.


After flower analysis came fruit!



A little coffee, some good tunes on the MP3 player and I’m set for lab work.









So, my role in the blueberry breeding program goes something like this, although my duties vary from year to year. My boss selects plants to cross. The Lab Tech makes the crosses in the greenhouse. She collects the seeds from the fruit that results. The seed is planted in trays in the greenhouse. When they reach a few inches tall, I pot them into trays of peat pots. At the same time, my boss takes hundreds of cuttings in the field from selections to propagate. When they have rooted (hopefully), I pot them up into one gallon pots. After the seedlings have grown and rooted well in their peat pots, those seedlings are transplanted out into the field.

Here is a photo of part of my blueberry field planting this summer.


My boss observes them for several years, taking notes and selecting potential crosses for release.  Blueberry plants with the best potential are dug and transplanted into more permanent plantings. The cuttings which were also rooted and potted up into 1 gallon pots are maintained in our nursery and sent out for observation at nurseries or planted in our own blueberry fields for continued observation. But, I really do like my role in collecting finely detailed botanical data of taxonomic characteristics for the selections my boss would like to release. In order to release them, he must first submit a plant patent with this detailed information showing that the plant is new or novel.

As a Certified Professional Horticulturist, I love working in plant research. Especially traditional plant breeding.

All of this blueberry talk is making me hungry for some blueberry cobbler!

Yours in Gardening Goodness,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright The Garden Maiden 2018



Categories: Fruit Crops, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Mississippi Midsouth Grape Harvest 2018



Harvest time! I couldn’t wait for this morning. I love being in the vineyard. And this would be the first year for a real harvest of Midsouth grapes being grown by Dr. Eric Stafne, Mississippi State University Extension Service.

I have watched these grapes for a few years and in particular their evolution from being dormant, to first leaves, to flowering and fruit set all this year.

Midsouth grape

Midsouth grape

Midsouth grape getting big, not ready yet!

Time to harvest later this week!

We arrived at 7:00 a.m. to the research station at McNeill, MS and began shortly thereafter with help from Butch Bailey (The Timber Beast and founder of @raiseyourpints), MSSTATE Extension Associate, Butch’s son, a post-doc from Iran, and a couple of MSSTATE extension employees from the Poplarville station.

Midsouth grape


Getting ready to harvest

We wanted to get an early start as a heat advisory with temperatures in the 90’s and heat index 108-110 were predicted.  The grape clusters were so beautiful. I love to watch the trains that pass the station.

Daily train that passes the station


Harvesting grapes.

Beautiful tub of harvested Midsouth grapes

Eventually all of the totes we had brought were filled so it was time to begin pressing with the new bladder press from Italy that Dr. Stafne had purchased.


The Timber Beast heaves the grape totes into the press with Dr. Eric Stafne.

The beautiful juice was released from the pressed grapes.


When enough totes were emptied, some of us went back to picking.

Later, I was so hungry, I almost ate an entire cluster. Almost. #sharkweek. By 11:15 I was sweaty and pooped. More than three hours into it picking and still some to go, but alas, I had to mosey on and leave everyone else to the task.

Mark from Lazy Magnolia showed up around 11 to assist but I never got to say hello. 😦 The entire affair was wrapped up at nearly 2 p.m.


Are you a student interested in pursing a degree in horticulture? There are many great programs at fine Universities all over the United States. As an alumna from the UA, I have particular interest in the programs in the Department of Horticulture at The University of Arkansas, Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture and also Michigan State University Department of Horticulture. Find out more about horticulture at the American Society for Horticultural Science website. Read about horticulture careers and opportunities at SEED YOUR FUTURE.


It sure was a great morning here in south Mississippi.


Your Green-thumbed friend,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

All of the images and text presented in this website are copyrighted by The Garden Maiden. These images and text cannot be used without express written permission from The Garden Maiden.

Categories: Fruit Crops, Plant Related Events | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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