A big plan for a small berry

Andrew Thomas has studied elderberries for 24 years. His latest project is focused on identifying and releasing superior cultivars to help Missouri elderberry farmers.

December 3, 2021

Transcript

Kenny Gerling: When you think of berries, you probably picture strawberries, or maybe blueberries or raspberries. Now Andrew Thomas, a research assistant professor of plant science and technology at the University of Missouri, is on a mission to add elderberries to the bunch of famous fruits.

Thomas is the leader of an interdisciplinary team who recently received a $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve elderberry production across the nation. Thomas said it’s a much-needed boost to a growing industry.

Thomas: “Farmers are planting more and more elderberry and there are more products being developed on the market, but it’s still a risky crop to grow and we really need more information out there. Our hope with the grant is to raise everything up a notch.”

Gerling: The grant will help researchers grow better elderberries, understand the economic and health benefits of elderberry products and modernize harvesting techniques. To achieve these goals, Thomas said the research team includes experts from across MU, as well as other institutions.

Thomas: “It’s a very large project and very large grant, so they wanted a large overview of the project — not focusing on one little aspect but bringing multiple disciplines together to elevate the crop.”

Gerling: For more on this grant, visit cafnr.missouri.edu.

I’m Kenny Gerling with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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