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