Blackberry in bloom in research blockThe Horticulture Group conducts research in fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and grasses. These projects have a direct application to homeowners and producers alike.

Testing of advanced selections of blackberry and blueberry are underway at SWREC. These trials are conducted to determine adaptation to southwest Arkansas, and to provide performance of new developments prior to release to the public. Blackberry testing includes new thorny and thornless selections for large fruit, high yields, and good fruit quality. Blueberry testing focusing on southern highbush selections with the hope that some of these new developments will provide expanded cultivar choices for growers in the region. Data collected at SWREC is utilized in the release of new cultivars from the small fruit breeding program.

Testing is ongoing of advanced white and yellow fleshed peach and nectarine selections. Adaptation to southwest Arkansas is the testing priority, to determine adaptation to the climate and pests in that region. Fruit yields, fruit size and fruit quality are evaluated in addition to measurement of bloom date and pest resistances. Peach selection testing focuses on white peaches, while nectarine trials including mostly yellow-fleshed types. Findings from trials at SWREC are utilized in cultivar release decisions in the breeding program.

Occasionally produce may be available for purchase as a by-product of research activities. This produce will be made available at the center, from local 4-H clubs, or local farmers markets. Please call the center for availability.

Research Projects

• Evaluations on breeding lines of the Arkansas Fruit Breeding Program (Drs. John Clark and Margaret Worthington) Crops include: blueberry, blackberry, peach, nectarine, and muscadine

• Evaluations of ornamental landscape plants (Dr. Jim Robbins)

• Research trials on commercial horticulture crops include: cover crops of watermelon, IPM tomato, high tunnel strawberry and blackberry production (Drs. Jackie Lee and Amanda McWhirt)