[Best of] Breeding Southern Highbush Varieties With Paul Lyrene, Ph.D.

Paul Lyrene, Ph.D., has dedicated his career to the development of early-ripening, high-quality blueberry cultivars that are productive in Florida’s humid, subtropical climate. Due to his efforts, the Florida blueberry industry has grown and flourished, and opened the door to blueberry production in other warm climates across the country and the world. 

On this week’s podcast, host Kasey Cronquist, president of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) and the North American Blueberry Council (NABC), is joined by Paul Lyrene, Ph.D., a world-renowned plant breeder, former University of Florida horticulture professor and member of the Florida Ag Hall of Fame.

“Blueberries are a plant in which the varieties are clones. That is, if you find one good plant, you chop it into one hundred million pieces and each one becomes a plant identical to the original plant.” – Paul Lyrene, Ph.D. 

“The flavor of a blueberry depends on both the variety and where it’s grown and how it’s grown. There are probably 1,000 different chemicals in a blueberry that are natural compounds that all have some influence on the flavor. ” – Paul Lyrene, Ph.D. 

Topics covered include: 

  • The history of blueberry cultivation in Florida.
  • What brought Lyrene to the blueberry industry.
  • The development of taste in blueberries and what goes into a good-tasting blueberry.
  • Future improvements to blueberry cultivars.
  • Improving private breeding program.