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New superberry created to thrive in Scottish climate

Scientists are creating a new variety of blueberry which will grow in Scotland – and be three times bigger than usual.

Scottish super berries

Experts are crossing more than 40 different blueberries to discover the perfect fruit which can be grown in the Scottish climate.

As well as being three times the size of usual supermarket versions – bigger than a grape or a small strawberry – the new fruits promise to be crunchier, juicier and more flavoursome.

Blueberries are already regarded as a 'superfood' – credited with everything from reducing blood pressure and preventing heart disease, to improving memory and speeding up muscle recovery after exercise.

Now scientists at the James Hutton Institute (JHI) in Invergowrie near Dundee are working to produce a variety that will thrive north of the Border. The world-leading scientific research centre turned its attention to blueberries around a decade ago after disease decimated the raspberry industry.

The JHI found that blueberries native to North America didn't produce the same yield or quality of fruit when grown in the UK.

Now contenders are emerging, including a fruit that measures up to an inch in diameter.

Dr Susan McCallum, blueberry researcher and breeder at the JHI, said the scientists wanted to help growers understand which selectively bred plants were best suited to the Scottish climate.

'We were able to advise them fairly well on what cultivars were most suited to the soil, the conditions, the pH that we had – but it still wasn't perfect so we started crossing and breeding our own blueberries,' she said.

Dr McCallum, who looks after 5,000 plants at Invergowrie, said a Scottish blueberry would ideally offer a good yield for growers to make money as well as size, flavour, firmness and crunch. 'A large size doesn't just make it more attractive for consumers, it also makes it easier for pickers. It makes it easier to fill the punnet, it's a more attractive fruit and tends to be more flavoursome,' she said.

'It's got to have a good balance of sugar and acid, it's got to be firm and have a nice crunch.

'I think we're getting there. There's certainly one frontrunner that's got the yield and plant architecture but also a fantastic fruit size and flavour.'


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