New Florida Blueberry Variety
Florida Blueberry season is currently underway albeit a little bit later than usual. To help growers in northern and central Florida, the Univerity of Florida is releasing a new blueberry variety to the market.
UF's Insiturtate of Food and Agricultural Sciences has released a new cultivar of blueberry, called ‘Sentinel’, in honor of Alto Straughn, who was a long-time extension administrator who also owned several farms near the Gainesville campus.
The new cultivar was first tested on Straughn’s farm in Waldo, FL. Research indicated that this new blueberry is best suited for Florida's northern and central regions.
Blueberries are about a $60 million-a-year industry in Florida. Florida’s blueberry farmers produce about 10 to 12 million tons annually in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
As stated by Patricio Muñoz from IFAS, "The ‘Sentinel’ blueberry increases the farmers’ yield for central and northern Florida. It’s a low-chill southern Highbush variety. UF/IFAS breeds southern Highbush blueberries, which are synonymous with low-chill and can be grown in the south.
The new cultivar is a high-quality fruit that past UF/IFAS cultivars. It also gives the grower fruit at the best market window, Muñoz said. The variety was also tested in multiple flavor panels at UF, and they rated ‘Sentinel’ “high” regarding flavor, Muñoz said.