Elderberries, lingonberries and aronia berries are among several lesser-known fruit crops being studied by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists who hope to make these fruits more popular with consumers.

At the ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon, researchers are studying “minor crops”, fruits that may be popular in other countries, to see if they can be successfully grown in the US. Another example is the edible-fruited honeysuckle, which looks somewhat like a blueberry and has its own unique flavour.

Any crop grown on fewer than 300,000 acres in the US is considered a minor crop there; however, many of the crops studied in Corvallis are grown on only a few hundred acres. There are more than 600 minor crops in the US. In some cases, such as with kiwifruit, the fruit may start off as a minor crop but eventually become a market staple.

The Agricultural Research Service is the US Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific research agency.