Seedless Table Grape Variety Evaluation Grown on VSP Training System

Final Report for FNE10-692

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2010: $9,388.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
John Lastowka
Lastowka's Maple Gate Farm
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Project Information

Summary:

 Farmers and growers that sell agricultural crops directly to the consumers are looking for new crops to expand their marketing opportunities. The purpose of the project was to look at seedless table grape cultivars to see which cultivars are adaptable to southern New Hampshire growing conditions during the first three to four years after planting.

 Fifteen different seedless table grape cultivars were planted in the spring of 2010 and the sixteenth cultivar was planted in spring of 2011. Ten vines of each cultivar were planted, eight feet between vines and eight feet between rows. The trellis was installed in 2010 and constructed for training the grape vines in the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system. The VSP has the grapes at the bottom of the canopy and then the shoots grow vertically towards the sky. Shoots are held upright by using catch wires that keep the shoots close to the trellis system. During the first four years, all cultivars were adaptive to the VSP system; however, there are concerns that some of the cultivars may be too vigorous in the future.

 During winter months daily temperatures were recorded. Then each spring the seedless table grape cultivar was reviewed for survival in winter conditions, the amount of winter die-back, and winter bud survival. Two cultivars did not survive the New Hampshire conditions. Three other cultivars were slow or weak growing in their first three or four years.

 The date of harvest, pounds of fruit harvested, and soluble solids (sugar brix) were recorded on those cultivars that started to produce marketable fruit during the first four years. Four cultivars surfaced to be productive during the fourth year after planting. However, this is based just on the beginning of the productive life to grape vines and there needs to be continuation of the evaluation over the next five or more years to give a realistic evaluation.

 Finally, we evaluated which grape cultivars customers preferred during the 2012 growing season and found very little difference in customer choice with the limited (five) number of cultivars.

Harvest in 2013 saw thirteen cultivars producing marketable fruit ranging from 0.3 pound per vine harvested to 10 pounds per vine harvested. Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red) are not adaptable to the growing conditions at the vineyard site in Merrimack, NH. Somerset Seedless (red) did not produce a crop but was planted one year later than the other fifteen cultivars. This cultivar is a slower growing cultivar; however, it may still have the potential to produce a marketable crop.

There were three cultivars that are easy growing and are grower friendly. These cultivars are great growing cultivars that fill the trellis system within three years. They include: Reliance (red) with a growth rating of 4.44 over the three years, Himrod (white) with a growth rating of 4.46 and Thomcord (blue/black) with a growth rating of 4.83.

The ten remaining cultivars have strengths and weaknesses that the grape grower needs to “weigh.”

 

Introduction:

At Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm, we raised and sold grass hay to horse owners in addition to my professional career. In 2005, we purchased and transplanted 300 high-bush blueberry bushes to enhance the profitability and sustainability on the farm. We have continued to transplant a total of 450 high-bush blueberry bushes, marketing the fruit through a Pick-Your-Own operation and selling harvested fruit in the Merrimack Farmers Market.

 While being the chairman of the Town of Merrimack’s Agricultural Commission, the commission had the opportunity to get town approval and support to start a new farmer’s market in 2009 and continued to manage the market in 2010. We expanded the farming operation to market fruit produce at the farmers market. The Merrimack Farmer’s Market has over twenty different vendors participating in the market with an average of twelve vendors per week.

 At the present there are few farms growing and marketing home-grown seedless table grapes in southern New Hampshire. With this project, we now have a better idea which seedless grape cultivars are adaptable to the growing conditions in southern New Hampshire and the VSP system. The economics of establishment costs of raising table grapes is expensive; thereby knowing which seedless table grape cultivars are adaptable to our growing conditions will help growers to make a better informed decision. Hopefully, this will reduce their costs and increase the future profitability of their seedless table grape enterprise.

 Participants

 The technical advisor on this project was George Hamilton who is the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension – Extension Field Specialist on the Fruit and Vegetable Area of Expertise Team located in Goffstown, NH. George is a native Pennsylvanian from the grape growing region along Lake Erie and his family was involved in growing Concord grapes.

 Technical Advisor, George Hamilton

Extension Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension

329 Mast Rd – Room 101

Goffstown, NH 03045

Phone: (603) 641-6060

E-mail: george.hamilton@unh.edu

 Others, while not direct paid consultants, who visited and provided some collaborative feedback in their specialties, were: Dr. Becky Sideman, University of New Hampshire– Extension Professor/Specialist, Sustainable Horticulture Production and Mr. William Lord, University of New Hampshire – Extension Professor Emeritus/Specialist, Fruit

Project Objectives:

The objective of this study was to evaluate sixteen seedless table grape cultivars trained in the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system to determine which cultivars are adaptive to southern New Hampshire growing conditions.

 

We sought to answer the following questions with this project:

 

  • Which seedless table grapes are adaptive to southern New Hampshire growing conditions?

 

                        Canadice (Red)                                   Einset (Red)

Reliance (Red)                                                Somerset Seedless (Red)

Suffolk Red (Red)                                Vanessa (Red)

 

Himrod (White)                                   Interlaken (White)

Lakemont (White)                               Marquis (White)

 

Concord Seedless (Blue/Black)           Glenora (Blue/Black)

Jupiter (Blue/Black)                            Mars (Blue/Black)

Thomcord (Blue/Black)                       Venus (Blue/Black)

 

  • Which seedless table grapes will local consumers purchase?

 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • George Hamilton

Research

Materials and methods:

 Based on discussions with UNH Cooperative Extension, sixteen different seedless table grape cultivars were selected. Ten vines of each of fifteen cultivars were purchased from two nurseries and planted in May of 2010. All 150 grape vine roots were planted in one day on May 15, 2010. We planted the sixteenth cultivar in the spring of 2011; this was due to a crop failure in the production of the grape vine roots in 2009 for this cultivar. One vine of each cultivar was planted on the outside row of the planting. Then nine vines were planted (three vines per post length) with two cultivars per row.

 The trellis was constructed for the grape vines training the vines in the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system over the next three weeks (end of May into June 2010). We installed all of the trellis and catch wire for the ¼ acre vineyard. There are four horizontal catch wires with the wire installed at 32” off the ground and the other three are vertically one foot apart. Note that the cost of the trellis and wire was not part of the grant.

 Posts were placed in the vineyard by drilling holes using a tractor mounted post hole digger. There were quite a few rocks in the soil where the post-hole digger could not be used. In these cases we used a backhoe to remove the rocks.

 After all of the posts were in, we drilled 10” diameter holes two feet deep with a gas hand auger, planted the grapes, and then installed the catch wires. The vines were pruned the day they were planted.

 Blue-X grow-tubes were place on the planted grape vines and were removed on September 11. Mini-stakes were driven into the ground for each vine and we slipped Blue-X grow-tubes over the stake and then tied each stake to the lowest wire. The Blue-X grow-tubes acted as a mini greenhouse to speed growth.

 The summer of 2010 was one of the hottest and driest summers that we have had. All the grape vines survived the summer conditions. However, we did do hand watering of the grape vines throughout the summer on an as needed basis. A soil test was taken, and lime and fertilizer was applied to the vineyard as recommended. Several times during the summer, we had trouble with deer browsing damage to the grape vines.

 In 2010-2011 the Town of Merrimack did some changes to the road causing water not to drain properly. This has caused some concern with the grape planting in 2011, 2012 and 2013 when there has been water build-up in a portion of the vineyard.

 Temperatures were recorded during the winter 2010-2011. A Watch Dog weather station was used to monitor temperature. The weather station is powered by a solar panel and it sends all of the data via a wireless modem to a computer in my office for analysis using SpecWare 9 Pro software.

 Reviewing the winter cold air temperatures, the coldest temperatures recorded were a minus 11 F degrees on January 24, and a minus 8 F degrees on February 2. There were a total of 11 days below zero during the winter of 2010-2011 and they occurred in January and February.

 A fruit pruning demonstration was conducted at the farm on March 26, 2011. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, and blueberry bushes. That afternoon George Hamilton conducted a special meeting on “Pruning/Care for Young Grape Vines” and we had 28 individuals attend the meeting.

 Nine of the grape vines of the 150 grape vines planted in 2010 did not survive the winter and had to be replaced in 2011. Due to the drought in the 2010 growing season and very wet spring of 2011, we do not feel that we can say that grape vine losses were due to winter die-back.

 The grape vines were pruned in April and trained on to trellis to the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system throughout the growing season. The grape vines were fertilized according to soil test recommendations. The sixteenth cultivar was planted in the spring of 2011.

 Grape vines were sprayed throughout the growing season for insect and disease problems. We did notice that some of the grape vines were more prone to downy mildew.

 Grape vine growth was evaluated twice during the growing season in July and October. The best grape vines growth was given a rating of 5 and the grape vines with the least amount of growth were given a rating of 1.

 The fall of 2011, a deer fence was constructed around the grape vineyard to prevent future problems.

A Watch Dog weather station was installed in the vineyard June 1, 2010, and it monitors temperature. The weather station is powered by a solar panel and it sends all of the data via a wireless modem to a computer in my office for analysis using SpecWare 9 Pro software. There have been several times that this system has failed to work properly.

 The winter of 2011-2012 was very mild. A Watch Dog weather station was used to monitor temperatures. Reviewing the winter cold air temperatures, the coldest temperatures recorded were a minus 2.8 F degrees on January 22, a minus 2.5 F degrees on January 22 and a minus 0.8 F degrees on January 22. There were a total of three days below zero and six days below 10 F degrees during the winter of 2011-2012. During the month of December 2011, the coldest temperature was on December 19 with a temperature of 8 F degrees. During the month of January 2012, the coldest temperature was on January 22 with a temperature of minus 2.8 F degrees. During the month of February 2012, the coldest temperature was on February 13 with a temperature of 10.9 F degrees. During the month of March 2012, the coldest temperature was on March 6 with a temperature of 11.4 F degrees. During the month of April 2012, the coldest temperature was on April 1 with a temperature of 24.0 F degrees.

 A fruit pruning demonstration was conducted at the farm on March 31, 2012. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, and blueberry bushes. That afternoon George Hamilton, UNH Cooperative Extension, conducted a special meeting on “Pruning/Care for Young Grape Vines” and we had 30 individuals attend the meeting.

 Grape bud survival rating was evaluated on April 3, 2012. Ratings were provided by Bill Lord, Extension Professor and Fruit Specialist Emeritus and George Hamilton, Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension. The grape buds showing “No Damage” were given a rating of 10. The lowest given was a rating of 5, where 30% to 40% buds cut open were winter killed.

 During the month of April, the temperature was very warm resulting in early bud-break compared to other years. However, no severe bud damage was seen in the vineyard.

 Grape vine growth was evaluated twice during the growing season in July and November. The best grape vine growth was given a rating of 5 and the grape vines with the least amount of growth were given a rating of 1.

 The grape vines were pruned in April and trained on to trellis to the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system throughout the growing season. The grape vines were fertilized according to soil test recommendations. Again, all vines that died or were missing were replanted in May/June.

 Grape vines were sprayed throughout the growing season for insect and disease problems. Grape vine growth was evaluated twice during the growing season in July and October. The best grape vines growth was given a rating of 5 and the grape vines with the least amount of growth were given a rating of 1.

 By far, the Thomcord (blue/black) and Reliance (red) cultivars had the most vigorous growth, where Einset (red) was the weakest growing cultivar during the 2012 growing season. Somerset Seedless (red) was ranked low but this cultivar was planted one year later than all of the other grape cultivars.

 Only five grape table cultivars produced grapes in 2012. The vines that produced a product in the third year were Reliance (red), Concord Seedless (blue/black), Thomcord (blue/black), Himrod (white) and Interlaken (white). For several weeks in late summer and fall of 2012, a seedless table grape taste testing of these cultivars was conducted at the Merrimack, NH, Farmers Market.

The winter of 2012-2013 was very mild. A Watch Dog weather station was attempted to be used to monitor temperatures however the station failed to record the winter temperature. An alternative weather station, located near the vineyard, was used as the base temperatures. Reviewing the winter cold air temperatures, the coldest temperatures recorded were a minus 2 F degrees on January 8, a 0 F degrees on January 24 and a 3 F degrees on January 23. There was only one day where the temperature was below zero and seven days below 10 F degrees during the winter of 2012-2013. During the month of December 2012, the coldest temperature was on December 26 with a temperature of 16 F degrees. During the month of January 2013, the coldest temperature was on January 3 with a temperature of minus 2 F degrees. During the month of February 2013, the coldest temperature was on February 10 with a temperature of 8 F degrees. During the month of March 2013, the coldest temperature was on March 18 with a temperature of 15 F degrees. During the month of April 2013, the coldest temperature was on April 7 with a temperature of 26 F degrees.

A fruit pruning demonstration was conducted at the farm on March 30, 2013. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, and blueberry bushes. That afternoon George Hamilton, UNH Cooperative Extension, conducted a special meeting on “Pruning/Care for Young Grape Vines” and we had 32 individuals attend the meeting.

Grape bud survival rating was evaluated on April 7 and 8, 2013 by George Hamilton, Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension. The grape buds showing “No Damage” were given a rating of 10. The lowest given was a rating of 5, where 30% to 40% of the buds cut open were winter killed.

During the month of April, the temperature was cool resulting in late bud-break compared to other years. However, on May 5, 6, 13, 14 and 15, frost events occurred that damaged new developing grape shoots. A grape bud survival rating was reevaluated on May 25, 2013. The grape buds showing “No Damage” were given a rating of 10. The lowest given was a rating of 2, where 80% or more of the buds cut open were winter killed or killed by spring frost.

The grape vines were pruned in April and trained on to trellis to the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system throughout the growing season. The grape vines were fertilized according to soil test recommendations. Dates of bud break, six-inches of growth, and twelve-inches of growth and bloom dates were recorded. Again, all vines that died or were missing (10 vines) were replanted in May/June. Grape vines were sprayed throughout the growing season for insect and disease pests.

Shoots were training in to the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) System. Grape cluster were thinned to maximum of two clusters per shoot. Leaves around the grape cluster were removed the first of August.

Grape vine growth was evaluated three times during the growing season in July, end of August at harvest, and October. The best grape vine growth was given a rating of “5” and the grape vines with the least amount of growth were given a rating of “1.”

Thirteen grape table cultivars produced grapes in 2013. All grapes harvested were wholesaled to farmers selling at farmers markets or sold at their own farm stand. Due to illness, the taste testing of the seedless table grape cultivars could not be conducted.

Research results and discussion:

Table #1 – Rating of Winter Die-Back and Bud Survival – 2012 

April 3, 2012, Bill Lord, Extension Professor and Fruit Specialist Emeritus and George Hamilton, Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension conducted an evaluation on rating the winter die-back and bud survival. A 0 to 10 scale was used, where 10 equaled no damage and 0 was total dieback.

Concord Seedless (blue/black) and Thomcord (blue/black) had no damage at all. Canadice (red), Einset (red), Suffolk Red (red), Jupiter (blue/black), Venus (blue/black), Himrod (white), Interlaken (white) and Lakemont (white) all had one or two buds showing potential injury. Mars (blue/black) had one positive injured bud and two buds showed potential injury. Marquis (white) had two positive injured buds and two buds showed potential injury. Reliance (red) and Glenora (blue/black) had three or four positive injured buds and one or two buds showing potential injury. Vanessa (red) had five positive injured buds and two buds showing potential injury. Somerset Seedless (red) was not rated since it was planted the previous year.

Table #2 – Rating of Winter Die-Back and Survival – 2013

April 7, 2013 and April 8, 2013 George Hamilton, Field Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension conducted an evaluation on rating the winter die-back and bud survival. A 0 to 10 scale was used, where 10 equaled no damage and 0 was total dieback. Grape buds were cut open and evaluated on degree of injury.

Concord Seedless (blue/black), Thomcord (blue/black), Venus (blue/black), and Himrod (white), had no damage at all. Reliance (red), Glenora (blue/black), Jupiter (blue/black), Mars (blue/black), Somerset Seedless (red), Interlaken (white), and Lakemont (white) all had one or two buds showing potential injury. Vanessa (red) had two positive injured buds and one buds showing potential injury. Canadice (red) and Marquis (white) had three positive injured buds and one or two buds showing potential injury. Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red) had five positive injured bud and two buds showing potential injury.

On the nights of May 13, 14, and 15, 2013, frost events occurred damaging new developing grape shoots. On May 25, 2013, a reevaluation was conducted to assess winter die-back and bud survival after the spring frost damage that occurred in May. The grape buds showing “No Damage” were given a rating of 10. The lowest rating given was a rating of 2, where 80% or more of the buds cut open were winter killed or killed by spring frost. Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red) were two cultivars showing the greatest damage. Concord Seedless (blue/black) had the least damage. Reliance (red), Jupiter (blue/black), Mars (blue/black), Venus (blue/black), and Marquis (white) showed very little damage, along with Thomcord (blue/black).

Table #3 – Date of Bud Break (First Growth), Dates of Six Inches and Twelve Inches of Growth

Date of bud break or sign of green tissue was recorded. Venus (blue/black) was the first cultivar breaking bud on April 30, 2013. Thomcord (blue/black), Somerset Seedless (red), Jupiter (blue/black) broke bud on May 1. May 2 had Mars (blue/black), and Interlaken (white) breaking bud. Concord Seedless (blue/black) was the latest cultivar breaking bud. Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red) were two cultivars that had the greatest damage to winter injury and spring frost. Einset (red) broke bud on May 9 and Suffolk Red (red) was the last to break bud. Both cultivars had the secondary or tertiary buds grow in both cultivars with the primary and/or secondary bud killed by winter or spring frost.

There wasn’t much difference in the date the cultivars reached six inches of shoot growth, which occurred May 18 through May 22, 2013. Twelve inches of shoot growth occurred anytime from May 24 through May 27.

Table #4 – Seedless Table Grape Cultivar – Grape Vine Growth Rating 2011, 2012, 2013

Table #5 – Seedless Table Grape Cultivar – Grape Vine Growth Rating Summary 2011, 2012, 2013

Growth rates were monitored twice a growing season – mid-season in July and at the end of the season October or November. In the 2013 growing season a third evaluation was made when harvest data was collected in the end of August. The best grape vine growth was given a rating of (5) and the grape vines with the least amount of growth were given a rating of (1). In this project, we will group the sixteen cultivars into five groups: impossible, weak, manageable, reliable, and good.

Impossible:      By far the two weakest growing cultivars were Einset (red), with a growth of rating 1.39 over the three years, and Suffolk Red (red), with a growth rating of 2.11. It was impossible to get these cultivars to grow and over-winter.

Weak:              Canadice (red) had a growth rating of 1.90 over the three years, Somerset Seedless (red) had a growth rating of 1.93, and Vanessa (red) had a growth rating of 2.46. If growers would plant these cultivars, additional care would be needed to grow these vine and additional time required to get them into production. Somerset Seedless (red) was planted in 2011 compared to all the other cultivars that were planted in 2010.

Manageable:   There are three cultivars that fall into the manageable growth grouping. They are: Lakemont (white) with a growth rating of 3.17 over the three years, Venus (blue/black) with a growth rating of 3.26 and Glenora (blue/black) with a growth rating of 3.45. These are manageable-average growing cultivars.

Reliable:          There are five cultivars that fall into the reliable growth grouping. These cultivars are good growing cultivars that fill the trellis system within three years. This grouping includes Mars (blue/black) with a growth rating of 3.88 over the three years, Interlaken (white) with a growth rating of 4.07, Jupiter (blue/black) with a growth rating of 4.14, Marquis (white) with a growth rating of 4.24 and Concord Seedless (blue/black) with a growth rating of 4.27.

 

Good:               The final three cultivars are the easy growing and are grower friendly. These cultivars are great growing cultivars that fill the trellis system within three years. They include: Reliance (red) with a growth rating of 4.44 over the three years, Himrod (white) with a growth rating of 4.46 and Thomcord (blue/black) with a growth rating of 4.83.

 

Thomcord (blue/black) and Reliance (red) cultivars had the most vigorous growth but had balanced growth with several other cultivars being close to their growth. Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red) were the weakest growing cultivars during the 2013 growing season. Somerset Seedless (red) was ranked low but this cultivar was planted one year later than all of the other grape cultivars.

 

Table #6 – Date and Pounds of Fruit Harvested for 2012 and 2013

The harvest in 2012 was minimal, where only five cultivars produce marketable clusters. This fruit was used for taste testing at the local farmers market. Interlaken (white) produced the most fruit yielding 12 pounds. Concord Seedless (blue/black) yielded 10 pounds of fruit, Himrod (white) produced 6 pounds of fruit, Reliance (red) yielded 5 pounds of fruit and Thomcord (blue/black) yielded 2 pounds of fruit.

Harvest in 2013 saw thirteen cultivars producing marketable fruit ranging from 0.3 pound per vine harvested to 10 pounds per vine harvested. Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red) are not adaptable to the growing conditions at the vineyard site in Merrimack, NH. Somerset Seedless (red) did not produce a crop but was planted one year later than the other fifteen cultivars. This cultivar is a slower growing cultivar; however, it may still have the potential to produce a marketable crop.

Reliance (red) produced 70.1 pounds of fruit on seven vines (10.0 pounds per vine) and Marquis (white) produced 72.1 pounds of fruit on eight vines (9.0 pounds per vine). These were the two highest producing cultivars. Thomcord (blue/black) produced 48.7 pounds of fruit on nine vines (5.4 pounds per vine) and Concord Seedless (blue/black) produced 35.5 pounds of fruit on nine vines (3.9 pounds per vine), and were the third and fourth highest producing cultivars.

Mars (blue/black) produced 19.4 pounds of fruit on nine vines (2.2 pounds per vine), Jupiter (blue/black) produced 17.5 pounds of fruit on eight vines (2.2 pounds per vine), Canadice (red) produced 12.5 pounds of fruit on four vines (3.3 pounds per vine), and Himrod (white) produced 8.1 pounds of fruit on seven vines (1.2 pounds per vine). These cultivars were in the third grouping based on production.

In the lowest yielding group Lakemont (white) produced 3.0 pounds of fruit on seven vines (0.4 pounds per vine), Vanessa (red) produced 2.0 pounds of fruit on two vines (1.0 pounds per vine), Interlaken (white) produced 2.0 pounds of fruit on five vines (0.4 pounds per vine), Venus (blue/black) produced 0.8 pounds of fruit on five vines (0.2 pounds per vine), and Glenora (blue/black) produced 0.3 pounds of fruit on one vine (0.3 pounds per vine).

Table #7 – Soluble Solids

Fall of 2012, the grapes ripen at a more normal harvest time in mid-September. As typically seen the grape cultivars soluble solid level was lower and increased closer to harvest time. By far Concord Seedless (blue/black) was the latest in ripening.

Fall of 2013, harvest was earlier than expected. The red cultivars saw Reliance (20.2 brix at harvest) had the highest soluble solid level, followed by Canadice (19.00 brix at harvest) and Vanessa (17.8 brix at harvest) had the lowest soluble solid level. Einset, Somerset Seedless, and Suffolk Red did not produce any fruit.

The blue/black cultivars saw Venus (22.7 brix at harvest) had the highest soluble solid level, followed by Jupiter (18.2 7 brix at harvest), Concord Seedless (18.0 brix at harvest), Thomcord (17.5 brix at harvest), Glenora (16.0 brix at harvest) and Mars (15.0 brix at harvest) had the lowest soluble solid level of the blue/black cultivars.

The white cultivars saw Himrod (18.0 brix at harvest) had the highest soluble solid level, followed by Lakemont (17.4 brix at harvest), Marquis (16.8 brix at harvest), and Interlaken (16.0 brix at harvest) had the lowest soluble solid level of the white cultivars. There was concern on the possibility of shattering of berries and cracking fruit as ripening preceded dealing with the white cultivars.

Table #8 – Harvest Time Evaluation of Grape Cluster, Grape Berry and Vine Growth Characteristics

On Friday, August 30, 2013, William Lord, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension – Extension Professor Emeritus/Specialist, Fruit, and George Hamilton, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension – Extension Field Specialist on the Fruit and Vegetable Area of Expertise Team evaluated grape cluster, grape berry and vine growth.

Cluster Size – based on weight

Marquis (white) and Reliance (red) had the largest clusters weighting over 190.0 grams per cluster. Venus (blue/black) had the smallest clusters (60.5 grams per cluster); followed by Vanessa (red) at 66.0 grams per cluster, Himrod (white) at 70.0 grams per cluster, and Glenora (blue/black) at 71.5 grams per cluster.

Berry Size – based on weight

Jupiter (blue/black) had the largest berry weighting 4.2 grams per berry; followed by Mars (blue/black) at 3.7 grams per berry, Marquis (white) at 3.5 grams per berry, and Venus (blue/black) at 3.3 grams per berry.

Concord Seedless (blue/black) had the smallest berries at 1.4 grams per berry; followed by Vanessa (red) at 1.5 grams per berry, Lakemont (white) at 1.5 grams per berry, and Canadice (red) at 1.8 grams per berry.

Which Grape Cultivar Will the Customer Purchase the At the Farmers Market

A seedless table grape tasting of the cultivars that we harvested from the vineyard was conducted for several weeks in the late summer/early fall of 2012 at the Merrimack, NH, farmers market. The vines that produced marketable fruit in the third year were Reliance (red), Concord Seedless (blue/black), Thomcord (blue/black), Himrod (white) and Interlaken (white). Each individual taste testing was asked if they liked each sample. The positive responses were recorded.

 

There was not much separation between the first and the fifth rated. The favorite grape cultivars of the tasters listed below from first to last were:

First:                Concord Seedless (blue/black), (70)

Second:            Reliance (red), (68)

Third:               Interlaken (white), (62)

Fourth:             Thomcord (blue/black), (61)

Fifth:                Himrod (white), (56)

 

The comments were remarkable from the people that tried the different cultivars that we had each week. The most common remarks were “I cannot believe these grapes were grown in NH”, “the flavor and sweetness of the NH grapes are amazing”, and “these grapes taste much better than the grapes in the supermarkets.”

 

Due to illness, the taste testing of the seedless table grape cultivars could not be conducted in 2013.

 

Training the Grape Vines in the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) System

All sixteen cultivars were trained to the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) System. No problems were seen in the first four years. Additional evaluation is needed to see how the different seedless table grape cultivars adapt to the VSP training system as the vines mature. Based on the shoot growth seen so far, some of the cultivars may not be adaptable to this system for the longer term. Some the Mars (blue/black) and Glenora (blue/black) cultivars vines grew a few number of bull canes. Bull canes are canes that grow very rapidly, with long internodes and a somewhat flattened shape. They often originate from older wood on the vine and often they do not fully mature. The VSP System may not be the best training system for those cultivars in the long run. Additional time is needed to evaluate the VSP System as the cultivars mature.

Research conclusions:

One new winery/vineyard visited the vineyard several times. Key issues that they were interested in were trellis construction, young vine training and pest control strategies. Two growers have planted small plantings of seedless table grape cultivars to be marketed at farmers market and farm stands based on the interest and potential of this project. Several home gardeners have planted seedless table grape cultivars based on this project.

Participation Summary

Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Meetings conducted at the farm:

 2010-03-27

Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm hosted a fruit pruning demonstration at the farm on March 27. George Hamilton and Jon Nute,UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, blueberry bushes and grape vines. We had 18 individuals attending the grape portion of the meeting. The grape project was discussed describing objectives of the project and how the grape vines were to be trained.

 2011-03-26

Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm hosted a fruit pruning demonstration at the farm on March 26. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, and blueberry bushes. That afternoonGeorge Hamilton, UNH Cooperative Extension, conducted a special meeting on “Pruning/Care for Young Grape Vines” and we had 28 individuals attending the grape portion of the meeting.

 2012-03-31

Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm hosted a fruit pruning demonstration at the farm on March 31. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, and blueberry bushes. That afternoon George Hamilton, UNH Cooperative Extension, conducted a special meeting on “Pruning/Care for Young Grape Vines” and we had 30 individuals attending the grape portion of the meeting.

 2013-03-30

Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm hosted a fruit pruning demonstration at the farm on March 31. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, and blueberry bushes. That afternoon George Hamilton, UNH Cooperative Extension, conducted a special meeting on “Pruning/Care for Young and Producing Grape Vines” and we had 32 individuals attending the grape portion of the meeting. Find the flyer notice at: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=12&ved=0CC8QFjABOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmerrimackoutdoors.org%2Findex.php%2Fdownload_file%2Fview%2F131%2F1%2F&ei=9wuqUq2gEvLOsATX9oDwBA&usg=AFQjCNEP65sMIfehM2c02lM9VyjQq7x2WQ&sig2=Deki3LJJooUZMx0N3e6bRA&bvm=bv.57967247,d.cWc

 Individual tours

 Several individuals have visited the project during the four years where I share my experiences.

 Video Media

 A video was produced in our vineyard “how to build vineyard” and was aired on Merrimack TV, a local town TV channel. There have been other videos created, one by the Town of Merrimack and another by a local film producer, all airing on local TV channels.

 2012-08 SARE Video on “Farmers and Their Technical Advisors” http://www.nesare.org/Dig-Deeper/Pictures-Stories-and-Video/Video-vault/Seedless-table-grapes-variety-trial

 Newspaper Article or Print Material

 Nashua Telegraph – Friday, March 26, 2010 – Food Regulation Proposals Threaten Farmers by Karen Lovett, Staff Writer; http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/685560-196/food-regulation-proposals-threaten-farmers.html#

 Nashua Telegraph – Tuesday, June 5, 2012 – Merrimack Farmers Market To Kick Off The Season Wednesday by Erin Place, Staff Writer; http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/963269-196/merrimack-farmers-market-to-kick-off-the.html

 Merrimack Journal – Friday, March 2, 2012 – Birdboy Suet Is a Tasty Treat for Birds – By Loretta Jackson, Correspondent; http://www.cabinet.com/merrimackjournalmerrimacknews/952160-308/birdboy-suet-is-a-tasty-treat-for.html

 2012 Merrimack Visitor Guide – Pick Your Own Advertising (check the picture); http://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=120107&p=24

 Powerpoint presentation
Attached below is a PPT presentation on the results.

Project Outcomes

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

Evaluating “Seedless Table Grape Cultivars” project requires a longer evaluation time period in order to collect meaningful data for more than one or two years of production. This project should continue for another two to three years to track the progress of all the seedless table grape cultivars that were planted in order to present a “fair” evaluation.

 The results of this project allow New Hampshire growers to have an idea of which seedless table grape cultivars to select, or cultivars not to select, in establishing a seedless table grape vineyard. Establishing a grape vineyard is a long term and expensive commitment for farmers to make. Knowing those cultivars that more adaptable to local growing conditions provides growers with the knowledge to reduce expenses and/or time needed to become profitable.

 Within the first four years of establishing the vineyard in Merrimack, NH, four cultivars surfaced to be reliable and productive; one red cultivar, one white cultivar and two blue/black cultivars. They are Reliance (red), Marquis (white), Thomcord (blue/black) and Concord Seedless (blue/black). Customers purchased all four cultivars and provided positive comments about each cultivar. Reliance (red) did show black rot disease susceptibility.

 

By far the two weakest growing cultivars were Einset (red) and Suffolk Red (red). It was impossible to get these cultivars to grow and over-winter indicating that they are not adaptable to the site in Merrimack NH.

 

The ten remaining cultivars have strengths and weaknesses that the grape grower needs to “weigh.”

  • Canadice (red), Somerset Seedless (red), and Vanessa (red) were the weaker growing cultivars at the Merrimack, NH site. However, all three cultivars have or have been advertised to have good to excellent eating qualities. Somerset Seedless (red) was planted one year later than the other fifteen cultivars and needs another year in order to be evaluated and compared fairly.

  • Glenora (blue/black) was a reliable growing cultivar but there are some concerns about disease susceptibility and the potential of producing bull canes.

  • Interlaken (white), Himrod (white) and Lakemont (white) are good growing vines. All three cultivars produced a modest crop of good flavor fruit.   There was concern on the possibility of shattering of berries and cracking fruit, as ripening preceded harvesting, and about disease susceptibility.

  • Mars (blue/black), Venus (blue/black) and Jupiter (blue/black) had fair production and the fruit flavor was somewhat musty. Mars (blue/black) may have potential of producing bull canes.

Future Recommendations

Evaluating “Seedless Table Grape Cultivars” requires a longer term project than is typical for a SARE project in order to collect meaningful data. This project should continue for another two to three years to track the progress of all the seedless table grape cultivars that were planted for a fairer evaluation. The results as of the end of the fourth year had two of the cultivars being very productive and two additional cultivars showing great promise. However, two of the cultivars were not adaptable to the given site and it would be questionable to advise other growers to plant them.

 

Due to my personal illness, the technical advisor took the responsibility to complete the project for the last year. The taste testing of the seedless table grape cultivars was not conducted in 2013. With the changes in responsibilities with the technical advisor’s job, it was not feasible for him to carry on this task nor was it his task to complete.

 

Training seedless table grape cultivars to the vertical shoot positioned (VSP) system was doable. Concentrating the fruit zone around the bottom wire was favorable. This allowed us to spray the grape clusters, not the whole grape vine canopy, for controlling Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) at harvest time. SWD was not a major problem for us in 2013 based on trap numbers and spraying recommendations according to IPM recommendations.

 

The VSP training system helped us in cluster thinning after bloom and leaf removal for helping in cluster ripening prior to harvesting. However, training the shoots during the growing season is quite time consuming. Additional evaluation is needed to see how the different seedless table grape cultivars adapt to the VSP training system as the vines mature. Based on the growth seen so far, some of the cultivars may not be adaptable to this system for the longer term.

 

This project reinforced the importance of farmer knowledge and research in the development of specialty crops for local markets. With the increased demand for local fresh fruit and vegetable produce, all the fresh seedless table grape cultivars were sold and all the markets wanted additional fruit. The window for sales of these locally grown cultivars looks to be a three to five week window of production. Customers wanted the produce earlier in the season and later in the growing season similar to the California types of seedless grapes.

 Areas of future research dealing with seedless table grapes include:

  1. Balance Pruning – How many buds should remain per pound of growth for each individual cultivar when pruning in spring.

  2. Cluster Thinning – Is cluster thinning needed, and if yes, what number of grape clusters should remain after bloom per shoot.

  3. Increase Berry Size – Will a spray application of Gibberellin acid (synthetic plant growth regulator) around grape bloom time help increase the berry size and at what rate?

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.