Gumbo ( PP 29,879) is a new southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium spp. hybrid) cultivar developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and is jointly released with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. The new cultivar has several advantageous attributes for blueberry growers in the southeastern United States and other subtropical regions with more temperate winters. Among these is an earlier ripening period (10–14 d) than the earliest ripening rabbiteye blueberry cultivars, the predominant blueberry type grown along the U.S. Gulf Coast. In comparison with other southern highbush cultivars with similar chill-hour adaptation to this region, ‘Gumbo’ has consistently displayed high plant vigor, good yield potential, and high fruit quality. ‘Gumbo’ is expected to provide growers along the U.S. Gulf Coast, and other areas of moderate winter chilling where blueberries are grown, enhanced opportunities to compete in the local early fresh-berry market.
‘Gumbo’ originated from a cross of ‘Cara’s Choice’ (Ehlenfeldt et al., 2005) × MS 6 and was crossed in 2000 and selected in 2003 at the USDA-ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticulture Laboratory in Poplarville, MS, and was tested as MS 1377. ‘Cara’s Choice’ was derived from the cross of G-144 [northern highbush (NH)] × US 165, a complex species hybrid [southern highbush (SH)] resulting from crosses among Vaccinium corymbosum (L.) selections, NH and SH cultivars, V. darrowii (Camp), V. constablaei(Gray), as well as several V. virgatum (Aiton; rabbiteye) selections and cultivars . MS 6 also originated from crosses among NH and SH. Hence, the name ‘Gumbo’ was chosen to reflect the diverse combinations of Vaccinium species contributing to the genetic makeup of this new cultivar. Plants of ‘Gumbo’ grow vigorously, have dark-green foliage, and have an upright growth habit with narrow crowns. ‘Gumbo’ produces large, attractive, light-blue firm berries with good flavor and small picking scars. Through comparison of flowering dates with to those of other blueberry cultivars with known chilling requirements, ‘Gumbo’ is estimated to have a chilling requirement of 350 to 400 h at less than 7 °C.Zone: 7-10, 1 gal. Size. Jumbo Size plant.