MSU blueberries licensed in Korea

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A small blue orb is bringing a bit of MSU green to the southern Korean Peninsula.

Four blueberry varieties—Draper, Liberty, Aurora and Huron – all bred by MSU AgBioResearch scientist Jim Hancock, have been sublicensed by Goodman Partners, LLC, a South Korean company, through Hortifrut, the company that holds the exclusive license on the varieties in Asia. This is the first time that MSU blueberries will be grown in Korea.

“MSU blueberries are known around the world for their quality,” said Tom Herlache, technology manager in MSU Technologies, who assisted with the sublicensing process. “The sublicensing contract establishes Goodman Partners as the only dealer of MSU blueberry varieties in Korea.”

Herlache said there have been rumors of fraudulent MSU blueberries in Korea—varieties that were purported to be the MSU berries but weren’t—so Goodman Partners wants to make sure everyone knows it’s the only official provider.

Draper is known for its high quality fruit that can be harvested by machine and stored for long periods of time. It also has a refreshing “snap” when first bitten. Liberty produces unusually flavorful fruit late in the season, a plus for growers when other varieties are done. Aurora is the latest fruit producer of all the varieties and stores well after picking. Huron blooms late, so it avoids damage from most early frosts, and its fruit has a complex flavor.

“I think the areas in Korea where the blueberries will be grown are similar to the growing areas in Michigan,” said Hancock, a professor in the MSU Department of Horticulture.  “So they’ll be able to take advantage of the traits the same way Michigan growers do.”

Herlache explained that the university receives royalties from plant sales and that more than tens of thousands of plants are expected to be sold in South Korea each year.

“I think it will be of substantial value to MSU,” he said.

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