Florida Blueberry Season Kicks-Off with New UF/IFAS Variety

April 2021

April is a sure sign of spring in the Sunshine State and with spring comes ripe Florida blueberries. You can find Florida-grown blueberries in supermarkets or pick them yourself at numerous Blueberry U-Pick Farms across the state.

Patricio Muñoz, an assistant professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has developed Florida’s newest blueberry variety called the “sentinel,” in honor of Florida blueberry pioneer Alto Straughn.

“We came up with the idea to name the blueberry after Alto because he ‘watched’ and ‘guarded’ the blueberry breeding program for many years,” Muñoz said.

The new variety was first tested in Northeast Florida in some of Straughn’s fields. Later, testing stretched all the way South into Arcadia. The sentinel provides farmers a new opportunity to produce during the best market window and the sweet berry ranked high in taste tests in multiple panels at the University.

Florida blueberries generate an annual $60 million a year. Read the full story here.