Arkansas blackberry breeder receives NARBA Distinguished Service AwardFeb. 8, 2012
Dr. John R. Clark, University Professor, Department of Horticulture
Debby Wechsler, North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association
Fred Miller, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Communications
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — John R. Clark, fruit breeder and university professor of horticulture for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, was presented the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association’s Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the blackberry industry.
Nathan Milburn of Milburn Orchards, Elkton, Md., incoming president of NARBA, made the presentation during the group’s annual meeting Jan. 16 in Sandusky, Ohio.
“We know John most as a breeder of blackberries and a friend of NARBA,” Milburn said. “He is a frequent contributor to the NARBA newsletter and has been a presenter at many NARBA conferences. He has spoken in support of NARBA's blackberry Research and Promotion Program initiative, and helps culture the visionary and collaborative attitudes that will be necessary for its success.”
The award honors Clark’s work as a breeder of many of the leading blackberry varieties grown today, including new primocane fruiting types that have the potential to greatly increase both the harvest window for blackberries and the geographic range for commercial production.
“I consider this award to be recognition of the Division of Agriculture’s support for growers and the efforts of everyone working in the blackberry breeding program,” Clark said. “It’s a reflection of a whole lot of work by a substantial number of people since Dr. James Moore began the division’s fruit breeding program in 1964.”
Moore directed the fruit breeding program for 33 years and began the work that led to the development of primocane-fruiting blackberries, Clark said.
“As the blackberry industry has grown,” Clark said, “Arkansas varieties have played an important role and raised the profile of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Blackberry varieties released by the Division of Agriculture include Ouachita, Natchez, Navaho, Apache, Kiowa, Arapaho, Shawnee, Choctaw, Cherokee, Cheyenne, and Comanche and the primocane varieties, Prime- Jim®, Prime-Jan®, and Prime-Ark® 45. The recent releases of Natchez and Ouachita have been widely planted in the eastern U.S., California, and around the world. Clark said Arkansas varieties are grown on every continent except Antarctica.
“The key point for us,” Clark said, “is that the division’s developments have made a positive impact for blackberry growers in Arkansas and the rest of the country.”
NARBA is a membership organization of blackberry/raspberry growers, researchers, and others with members in more than 35 states, 8 Canadian provinces, and 5 countries.