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Jennifer Johnson-Cicalese
Research Associate
jenjc@aesop.rutgers.edu     

Jennifer began working at the Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center in 2002.  After 20 years of turfgrass breeding she decided to switch crops and began assisting Dr. Nicholi Vorsa, the Station Director, with the cranberry and blueberry breeding projects.

Jennifer's focus for the cranberry breeding program has been on improving fruit yield, berry color and plant vigor. Considerable effort is now being placed on improving resistance to fruit rot, a serious disease in cranberries; developing a sweeter, less acidic cranberry; and on evaluating the levels of potentially beneficial flavonoids in our cranberry breeding material. In 2006, Jennifer assisted with patent applications and the release of three new cranberry varieties.

With the blueberry breeding program, the emphasis is on developing varieties with machine harvestable fruit, and varieties that expand the blueberry season, while maintaining delicious flavor and high yield.  An additional objective that is of particular interest to Jennifer is the development of a blueberry with resistance to blueberry aphid, an important virus vector.

Jennifer’s responsibilities include: planning and making crosses each spring, planting new evaluation trials, blueberry tasting and other evaluations throughout the season, autumn cranberry harvest, data analysis, and the year-round maintenance of a large collection of cranberry and blueberry germplasm for future breeding efforts.