Friday, January 13, 2012

Elderberry Research Program Focused on Developing Cultivars of this Missouri Native Fruit for Profitable Crop

Several Extension reseachers are working together to try and develop a new cultivar of elderberry that can be profitable for growers in Missouri.

The “Elderberry Development Program” is a joint research project between the University of Missouri, Missouri State University, and Lincoln University that focuses on the elderberry, a native Missouri fruit plant. The project was initiated in 1997 and has attracted over $120,000 in grant funding.

’Wyldewood’ elderberry is a new cultivar
being developed in Missouri.

The program is coordinated by Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, and Andy Thomas, a researcher at University of Missouri’s Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon.

“Processors interested in elderberry wine, jelly/jam, juice, and health supplements are driving an interest in elderberry production in Missouri,” said Byers.

Little is known about the commercial cultivation of this fruit crop. The research project is focused on testing elderberry cultivars, developing new cultivars, investigating elderberry culture in Missouri, and studying the health benefits of elderberry consumption.

Impacts of the project include development of two new elderberry cultivars adapted to Midwestern growing conditions; development of fertility regimes for elderberry, which will lead to more efficient use of fertilizers; development of management strategies for elderberry pest issues; and the production of 18 publications.

There have also been 31 invited presentations that have shared Missouri’s elderberry experience regionally, nationally, and internationally.

“Most importantly, as a direct result of this research, a project is the development for Missouri’s commercial elderberry industry of 35+ acres, worth an estimated $140,000 annually to Missouri farmers,” said Byers.

For more information, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension or the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 881-8909.

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