Talent Attraction

James Hancock


Position: Professor, Horticulture
Institution: Michigan State University
Education: University of California, Davis Ph.D., Genetics; Miami University M.S., Botany; Baldwin-Wallace College B.S., Biology
Impact: Innovation in AgBio to create real-world solutions


“I feel good having the whole production season covered, and I think we’ve delivered what Michigan growers needed,” said James Hancock.

James Hancock, AgBioResearch scientist at Michigan State University, developed the Aurora, Draper and Liberty blueberries, three of the most widely planted Northern Highbush blueberry varieties, commonly referred to as the “big three.” Their introduction increased access to the fruit for consumers worldwide and has driven Michigan’s success in the industry.

“As a breeder, I’m most proud of the varieties,” Hancock said. “We released three in 2004, and they’ve all done extremely well, and in the last five years we’ve released three more. I feel good having the whole production season covered, and I think we’ve delivered what Michigan growers needed.”

Hancock received the 2014 MSU Innovation Center Technology Transfer Achievement Award for excellence in applying innovation to create real-world solutions. His patience, dependability and dedication to the end result are noted time and time again amongst his peers.

Their collective work in the industry is well-known throughout the state.


“By working with MSU scientists and Extension specialists, growers put forth the best possible crop. I can’t imagine an agricultural environment in Michigan without having MSU there to guide our way,” said Shelly Hartmann, co-owner of True Blue Farms.

A few achievements include the following:

  • Michigan is #1 in production for 2014, producing 92 million pounds at $114 million dollars. Nationally the number was $811 million, of which Michigan made up 14%.
  • $811m nationally, $114m in Michigan
  • 15,000 acres to 20,000 in last 20 years
  • Michigan is #1 in high bush yield, 100 million pounds annually

Photo Credit: MSU AgBioResearch. Visit: http://agbioresearch.msu.edu/