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UVI School of Agriculture Research Bears Fruit: ‘Festival’ And ‘Midnite’ Sorrel

The University of the Virgin Islands School of Agriculture unveiled two new varieties of sorrel to the public on Thursday, April 8, via Facebook Live.

Sorrel varieties “Festival” and “Midnite” are a combination of Caribbean and African varieties (from Nigeria and Ghana), crossed with a Trinidad variety of Black Sorrel.

For 11 years, Thomas Zimmerman, Assistant Director UVI SOA Agricultural Experiment Station, and Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Agroforestry worked with the Biotechnology and Agroforestry team –Haroon Ali, Henry Harris, Louis Hilgemann, Raheem Smart, Milan Philbert, and Daryl Richards.

Zimmerman shared their accomplishment after years of sorrel breeding and selections. Usually, sorrel is produced during the fall/winter months, as the day lengths get shorter. According to Zimmerman, they were able to develop “better and more productive sorrel varieties that extend the growing season and production to 10 months of the year.”

In 2009, Zimmerman obtained the seeds of the two Plant Introductions (PI#274245 from Nigeria and PI#291128 from Ghana) from the USDA Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit in Griffin, Georgia. Three generations of plants from these crosses were chosen for dark fruit and high production. Zimmerman stated that “Selections from the third generation were then crossed with a ‘Day Neutral’ variety from St. Kitts. Both

‘Festival’ and ‘Midnite’ have deep crimson fruiting calyxes and have a higher tolerance to calcareous soils than the ‘Day Neutral’ variety. The difference between the two varieties is that ‘Festival’ has a longer fruit, while ‘Midnite’ has a unique leaf shape and open leaf canopy to easily see fruiting calyxes.

These seeds can be purchased from Zimmerman at the UVI School of Agriculture in the month of May, 2021.

For more information, contact Zimmerman at tzimmer@uvi.edu

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