By applying animal and forest wastes, Dr. Girish K.S. Panicker, director of Conservation Research, School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS), has succeeded in increasing the vitamin C and total anthocyanins content of Rabbiteye Blueberries.
Now, Alcorn’s Blueberries produced under worm castings have 83 percent higher vitamin C content compared to blueberries available in the open market.
This breakthrough in organic Blueberry research comes after several studies in Dr. Panicker’s career. In 2002, in collaboration with Dr. James Spiers, director of USDA Thad Cochran Horticultural Research Laboratory, Poplarville, Mississippi, Dr. Panicker was one of the first scientists to succeed in raising Blueberry on a flat land of heavy soil: Memphis Silt Loam. Since blueberries do not have root hairs and depend on Mycorrhizae for soil nutrients, they can’t be raised on heavy soils.
Recently, Dr. Panicker was one among four highly experienced scientists invited by the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) to deliver speech on organic Blueberry research at its 11th International Vaccinium Symposium held in Orlando, Florida. His research paper, “Organic farming systems in increasing the Anthocyanin and Vitamin C content of Rabbiteye Blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade var. Tifblue) on heavy soil,” has been accepted for publication by ISHS. The paper is co-authored by Dr. Ananda Nanjundaswamy, assistant professor of school of AREAS, Alcorn State University, and Dr. Juan Silva and Dr. Frank Matta, professors of Mississippi State University.