Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Ministry of Agriculture

All-Russian Horticulturae Michurin Institute

1st Virtual International Scientific conference on Lonicera caerulea L.


B. Bors Breeding of Lonicera caerulea L. for Saskatchewan and Canada

Only the University of Saskatchewan is breeding blue honeysuckles in Canada.  Our goal is to develop cultivars adapted to mechanical harvesting and processing.  We are interbreeding lines from Russia, Japan, and the Kuril Islands to bring together traits desirable for mechanization. Russian germplasm is most valuable for uniform ripening, early fruiting, and easy to detach fruit, but fruit is often tubular shaped and small. Japanese germplasm has heavier, more rounded fruit but usually is hard to detach and ripens unevenly.  Kurile Island fruits can be large and round but these accessions have low productivity but have good disease resistance.  Good flavour is very important, but can be found all 3 germplasm pools above.

Farmers are growing half the seedling from our program in a cooperative project.  Perhaps 30,000 seedlings from controlled crosses have been planted in the last 5 years, but 95% of these are first generation hybrids.  We recently released two cultivars we consider superior for our location, but expect more improvements in future generations.

Collecting wild Lonicera caerulea from the boreal forests of Canada began in 2007.  So far, 650 accessions have been gathered from 131 sites in 6 provinces.  Plants and leaves are quite variable in the collection.  The  few plants that had berries on them when collected tasted good but were small.  It will be a few years before these plants are large enough to evaluate their usefulness for breeding.

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