Yesterday I was in a meeting of the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association. I overhead some growers commenting on ‘Pearl’, a relatively new southern highbush released by USDA-ARS in Poplarville, MS. They were expressing delight over the berry size and machine harvest capability as well as the slightly later bloom time that may help avoid some frost issues. Below is a short description of ‘Pearl’ written by Dr. Stephen Stringer.
‘Pearl’ is a new southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium spp. hybrid) developed and released by the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. The new cultivar has several advantages for growers in the Southeastern U.S. over rabbiteye blueberry cultivars, the most widely grown type of blueberry in the region. Among these are an earlier ripening period, high yield potential, and fruit quality. These attributes enable producers to participate in the lucrative early U.S. fresh market where opportunities for marketing rabbiteye blueberries have diminished due to expanding acreage in the region and other states. (source: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15538362.2011.619437)
More information can be found in this press release from 2012 (http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/aug12/blueberry0812.htm).