Many of you know of Dr. Dan Barney’s huckleberry research. If not, the International Wild Huckleberry Association followed his research until the UI closed his center in 2010 (See Dr. Barney’s Research).
Dr. Barney research, since 2004 (as documented on our site), resulted in finding successful methods to propagate the wild huckleberry from the norther Rockies area. Much of our original information posted on this site, came from Dr. Barney’s notes, workshops and documentation.
After Dr. Barney left Idaho, he was forced to abandon his research. The lab was dismantled and his plants were sold and donated to nurseries and interested folks in the area.
Since that time, we have had some contact with Dr. Barney, but nothing more than a note here and there telling us a bit about his new job(s) and his family. I was sad to hear that he had stopped his research.
Recently, I received an exciting note from him talking about his next big project that I would like to share.
Some good news. I ran germination tests on my (huckleberry) seed last month. The trip down from Alaska was less than smooth and the trucking company lost our household goods for two months in 100 degree plus weather. I expected all of the seed to be dead, but germination rates are still very good. All of the breeding lines are alive and well and ready to start next year when we return to Alaska. I also have an extensive new collection of alpine bilberry seed (a.k.a. Alaska blueberry in the north) that came from outstanding plants. I expect to have selections ready to release quite quickly, including some that should do well in the lower 48. The crop is extremely adaptable and flourishes from southern Alaska to well north of Fairbanks. The flavor is not quite as good as the Idaho huckleberry, but a little tweaking and a few crosses between the two should produce an easy-to-grow plant with excellent flavor and aroma.
We still have about 18 months before I can retire. We finished our retirement home in Alaska last November and are renting it out for now….. We have just under an acre of land, plenty to do my berry and rhubarb breeding work. The growers there are tremendous and I will have no difficulty getting people to test the selections. ….
We miss Idaho. That is where I was born and where we lived for many years … The people there are great and I appreciate all the support that I had for my program.
Great news!! We will be looking forward to more info from Dr. Barney (affectionately known as “Dr. Huckleberry”) and his continuing research.