A Bit of History


The Rutgers varieties are a product of the diligent and extraordinary career work of the breeder, Dr. Nicholi Vorsa and his colleagues. Dr. Vorsa, a full professor at Rutgers, became Director of the Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research in 1991.

He is a graduate of Rutgers University, and went on to the University of Wisconsin to receive a Masters in 1978 in Breeding and Genetics. He later returned to Rutgers, where he acquired a Doctorate, also in Breeding and Genetics, in 1985.

Dr. Vorsa possesses numerous patents concerning health attributive qualities of the cranberry, including urinary tract infection prevention and anti-inflammatory characteristics.

The goal of Dr. Vorsa’s breeding program has been “to identify superior parents of diverse genetic background, to produce superior progeny with improved traits.”

It was within this aspirational framework that enhanced yield, fruit quality, and genetic diversity of the cranberry were to be achieved.

Dr. Vorsa determined that well-known varieties of cranberry were composed of genetically different individuals. Thus emerged the realization that utilizing existing germplasm plots for breeding, in their genetically impure form, would not lead to the maximum potential of the gene pool at hand.

Over many years, Dr Vorsa isolated the most productive strain of the existing commercial varieties. He then proceeded to re-establish the germplasm plots from a single vine to ensure genetic purity and superiority of the variety in the plot. Therefore, Dr. Vorsa isolated superior parents to produce superior progeny.

 

In 1991, Dr. Vorsa’s lab develops the first DNA fingerprinting technology for cranberries. Over 1,000 varieties are isolated.