About The Program
The blueberry breeding program at University of Florida (UF) has been developing southern highbush cultivars (V. corymbosum) for over 60 years. Our released cultivars, have created a Florida blueberry industry, which has been valued at over $75 million in 2014, and allowed the expansion of blueberry production in other subtropical areas around the world.
Dr. Ralph Sharpe started blueberry breeding at UF in 1950, followed by Dr. Wayne Sherman. Dr. Paul Lyrene headed the program from 1977-2009, and Dr. Jim Olmstead took over until 2016. In 2017, Dr. Patricio Muñoz took over the reins, and he is the current leader of the program. The success of UF blueberry cultivars in Florida has been due to the program leaders, who over the years, have been frequently awarded for their breeding work. Dr. Sharpe, Sherman and Lyrene have all been awarded the Wilder Medal by the American Pomological Society. 'Sharpblue' - the first southern highbush blueberry cultivar released by Ralph Sharpe and Wayne Sherman - was awarded the Outstanding Fruit Cultivar by the American Society for Horticultural Science. Dr. Paul Lyrene was honored in 2011 with induction into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.