If you drink cranberry juice, munch on dried cranberries or savor cranberry sauce, chances are they may include varieties bred at Rutgers University in the New Jersey Pinelands.
“A lot of Rutgers cranberry varieties were planted over the last decade and they’re worldwide now, a unique win for Rutgers,” said Nicholi Vorsa, director of Rutgers’ Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension in Chatsworth, Burlington County. The center is within the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES), a research unit of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.
The six Rutgers cranberry varieties developed by Vorsa and his colleagues at NJAES are increasingly planted and harvested in New Jersey and other states and nations. They include Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington State, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (Canada), Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Quebec, British Columbia, Chile and New Zealand, Vorsa said. Rutgers varieties include Crimson Queen, Demoranville, Mullica Queen, Scarlet Knight, Welker and Haines cranberries – all introduced since 2005.
“I think it’s safe to say that they make it into all our products,” said Kellyanne Dignan, senior manager of cooperative communications at Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. in Lakeville-Middleboro, Massachusetts. “About 65 percent of the global crop comes through Ocean Spray,” she noted. Ocean Spray, which has helped fund Rutgers cranberry research, is a grower-owned cooperative of 700-plus families.
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