USDA-ARS & OSU Cooperative Breeding Program: NWREC Trials

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Oregon has a diverse, economically important berry crop industry with about 23,000 acres harvested for a farm gate value of over $123 million in 2011. Berry crops are grown on over 1000 family farms in Oregon. Growers in the Pacific Northwest require cultivars adapted to the climate, processed and fresh markets, tolerant to pests, and have high quality. Thornless blackberry cultivars are a goal to reduce potential for thorn contamination in machine-harvested fruit. Caneberries and blueberries intended for processed markets must be adapted to machine harvest. Strawberry cultivars must have good texture and color for processing and shelf life for fresh market.

The breeding program is a cooperative effort between the USDA-ARS (formerly held by Chad Finn) and OSU (presently Bernadine Strik). This is a long-standing cooperation between the USDA and OSU that started in 1917. The objective of this program is to develop better berry crop varieties for the Pacific Northwest.

At the NWREC, potential varieties (cultivars) of blueberry, blackberry, red and black raspberry, and strawberry are evaluated in field plantings at the NWREC. We also evaluate potential new crops like haskap (honey berry) and hardy or baby kiwifruit. As a result of our cooperative trials, we have released one blueberry, five strawberry, nine blackberry, and three raspberry cultivars since 1993 (Chad Finn and Strik) and many prior to that, including the beloved "marionberry". We recently estimated the annual impact of this program as $11 million in fruit sales from new cultivars in Oregon.

We have various cooperative breeding plots of strawberry, black and red raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, haskap, and hardy kiwifruit planted at the NWREC. While our blueberry, haskap, and kiwifruit plantings are more long-lived, we rotate through our strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry plantings more quickly as selections from the breeding program are evaluated and rejected or kept for future evaluations in new plantings.

Industry members are invited to observe field plantings and taste advanced selections at the NWREC at our annual Strawberry and Caneberry (raspberry and blackberry) Open Houses and Blueberry Field Day – the dates of which are chosen to coincide with the fruiting season. We also take frozen fruit samples to industry meetings throughout the winter to solicit industry input (in cooperation with OSU's Dept. Food Science & Technology).

The recent (2004-present) cultivars released from this program are as follows. Blackberry: Black Diamond, Black Pearl, Nightfall, Obsidian, Metolius, Wild Treasure, Siskiyou, Newberry, and Onyx (first one patented). Strawberry: Tillamook, Firecracker, Pinnacle, Independence, Valley Red, and Sweet Bliss.

Red raspberry: Coho and Vintage Blueberry: Arlen Other OSU Extension Faculty involved in this project are Brian Yorgey and Yanyun Zhao (Food Sci.); Wei Yang (NWREC) Cultivar releases (refereed publications).


  • Finn, C.E., C. Kempler, P.P. Moore, B.C. Strik, B.M. Yorgey, and R.R. Martin. 2011. 'Sweet Bliss' strawberry. HortScience 46:1701-1705.
  • Finn, C.E., B.C. Strik, B.M. Yorgey, and R.R. Martin. 2011. 'Onyx' trailing blackberry. HortScience 46(4):657-659.
  • Finn, C.E., B.C. Strik, B.M. Yorgey, M. Qian, R.R. Martin, and M. Peterson. 2010. 'Wild Treasure' Thornless Trailing Blackberry. HortScience 45:434-436
  • Finn, C.E., B.C. Strik, B.M. Yorgey, R.R. Martin, and M.M. Stahler. 2010. 'Newberry' Trailing Blackberry. HortScience 45:437-440
  • Finn, C.E., P.P. Moore, C. Kempler, B. Yorgey, B.C. Strik, and R.R. Martin. 2009. 'Valley Red' strawberry. HortScience, 44:1468-1471
  • Strik, B. and K. Hummer. 2006. 'Ananasnaya' hardy kiwifruit. J. Amer. Pom. Soc. 60:106-112
  • Finn, C.E., B. Yorgey, B. Strik, R. Martin, and C. Kempler. 2005. 'Obsidian' trailing blackberry. HortScience, 40:2185-2188
  • Finn, C.E., B. Yorgey, B. Strik, R. Martin, and M. Qian. 2005. 'Black Pearl' thornless trailing blackberry. HortScience, 40:2179-2181
  • Finn, C.E., B. Yorgey, B. Strik, H. Hall, R. Martin, and M. Qian. 2005. 'Black Diamond' thornless trailing blackberry. HortScience, 40:2175-2178
  • Finn, C.E., B. Yorgey, B. Strik, and R. Martin. 2005. 'Nightfall' thornless trailing blackberry. HortScience, 40:2182-2184
  • Finn, C.E., B. Yorgey, B. Strik, and R. Martin. 2005. 'Metolius' trailing blackberry. HortScience, 40:2189-2191
  • Finn, C.E., B. Yorgey, B. Strik, and P. Moore. 2004. 'Tillamook' and 'Pinnacle' strawberries. HortScience, 39:1487-1489.
  • Finn, C.E., F.J. Lawrence, B. Yorgey, and B. Strik. 2004. 'Chinook' red raspberry. HortScience, 39:444-445
  • Finn, C.E., F.J. Lawrence, B. Yorgey, and B. Strik. 2001. 'Coho' red raspberry. HortScience, 36:1159-1161
  • Finn, C.E., F.J. Lawrence, G. Langford, P. Moore, B. Yorgey, and B.C. Strik. 2001. 'Lewis' red raspberry. HortScience, 36:1155-1158.
  • Finn, C., F. Lawrence, B. Strik, B. Yorgey, and J. DeFrancesco. 1999. 'Siskiyou' trailing blackberry. HortScience 34:1288-1290.
  • Finn, C., F. Lawrence, and B. Strik. 1998. 'Black Butte' trailing blackberry. HortScience 33:355-357.
  • Finn, C., B. Strik, and F. Lawrence. 1997. 'Marion' trailing blackberry. Fruit Var. J. 51:130-133.

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