Three new cultivars each of blueberry and coleus have been approved for release by a University of Florida panel.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cultivar Release Committee approved Avanti “FL 06-203,’ Arcadia ‘FL 07-399’ and Endura ‘FL 06-377’ – all blueberry cultivars.

Jim Olmstead, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticultural sciences and a blueberry breeder, said the cultivars performed best in the central and southern part of Florida’s blueberry region, which includes Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Orange, Pasco, Polk and Sarasota counties. Those areas currently produce more than 50 percent of the state’s blueberries.

The new blueberry cultivars are well-suited for evergreen production, in which producers do not allow the blueberry plants to go dormant during December and January. This results in early fruit production, beginning in late January and continuing through May. The three new cultivars have higher yield using this evergreen management system than existing cultivars that are not as well adapted.

“These new cultivars add to a very short list of blueberries that can be grown successfully in central and south central Florida,” Olmstead said. “I’m excited about the opportunity for expansion of the Florida blueberry industry these cultivars should provide.”

Committee members on Jan. 7 also gave their nod to coleus cultivars ‘UF 12-73-5,’ ‘UF12-74-3’ and ‘UF 13-6-11.’

David Clark, UF/IFAS environmental horticulture professor, told the panel he’s breeding more coleus cultivars because companies continue to demand UF/IFAS varieties because they are colorful and easy to grow. Coleus are ornamental plants, and the emergence of UF/IFAS varieties in the marketplace has led to the National Garden Bureau naming 2015 as “The Year of the Coleus.” You can find out more at http://ngb.org/ .