Seedless Table Grape Variety Evaluation Grown on VSP Training System
Farmers and growers who sell agricultural crops directly to consumers are looking for new crops to expand their marketing opportunities. Our project will be looking at seedless table grape varieties that are adaptable to southern New Hampshire as a new crop to market.
Based on discussions I have had with UNH Cooperative Extension, we selected sixteen different seedless table grape varieties. Ten vines of each of fifteen varieties were purchased from two nurseries and planted in May of 2010. We planted the sixteenth variety in the spring of 2011.
We documented grape bud winter survival on April 4. Grape vine growth was evaluated in July and October.
We trained the grape vines on to trellis to the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system throughout the growing season. The grape vines were fertilized according to soil test recommendations. Grape vines were sprayed throughout the growing season for insect and disease problems.
UNH Cooperative Extension is assisting me with monitoring the progress of the grapes throughout the season. My technical advisor from UNH Cooperative Extension is Extension Field Specialist George Hamilton, based in Hillsborough County. George has done pruning demonstrations at my farm for the last seven years, demonstrating the pruning of apple, peach, pear and cherry trees along with high bush blueberries and grapes. George has observed and made recommendations for the vineyard throughout the winter, spring, summer and fall.
Winter Vine Survival
During the winter of 2011-2012 two of the grape vines of the 150 grape vines planted in 2010 and one of the 10 grape vines planted in 2011 did not survive the winter and had to be replaced in 2012.
Note Table 1, 2012 Winter Vine Survival
Grape Bud Survival
Grape bud survival rating was evaluated on April 3, 2010. 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 6, where 30% to 40% buds cut open were winter killed.
The winter of 2011-2012 was very mild. A Watch Dog weather station was used to monitor temperature, humidity, wind speed, gusts, rainfall, ground temperature and ground moisture. The weather station is powered by a solar panel, sending 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 2.8oF on January 22, a minus 2.5oF on January 22 and a minus 0.8oF on January 22. There were a total of three days below zero and six days below 10oF during the winter of 2011-2012. During the month of December 2011, the coldest temperature was on December 19 with a temperature of 8oF. During the month of January 2012, the coldest temperature was on January 22 with a temperature of minus 2.8oF. During the month of February 2012, the coldest temperature was on February 13 with a temperature of 10.9oF. During the month of March 2012, the coldest temperature was on March 6 with a temperature of 11.4oF. During the month of April 2012, the coldest temperature was on April 1 with a temperature of 24.0oF.
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.
Note Table 2, Spring Bud Survival Rating
Grape Vine Growth
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.
By far, the Thomcord and Reliance varieties had the most vigorous growth, where Einset was the weakest growing variety during the 2012 growing season. Summerset Seedless was ranked low but this variety was planted one year later than all of the other grape varieties.
Note table 3, 2012 Grape Vine Growth Ratings
Only five grape table varieties produced grapes in 2012. It is too early to talk about the amount of grapes each variety produces and their quality. Next year, more varieties should be producing a marketable crop.
Note table 4, 2012 Table Grape Production
Public tasting of Seedless Table Grapes 2012
For several weeks at a local Farmers Market in Merrimack, NH, we did a seedless table grape tasting of the varieties that we harvested from the vineyard in late summer of 2012. The vines that produced a product in the third year were Reliance, Concord Seedless, Thomcord, Himrod and Interlaken. The comments were remarkable from the people that tried the different varieties 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”.
The favorites grape varieties of the tasters listed below from first to last were:
First: Concord Seedless
Second: Reliance came in very close to Concord Seedless
Third: Interlaken, this was almost a tie with Thomcord.
In 2013, we plan to do more tasting trials at local Farmers Markets and see which varieties the public will purchase.
Replacements for 2013
Next year (April/May 2013), we will need to replace follow grape vines due to mechanical, weeding or wildlife damage:
2 vines – Canadice
2 vines – Suffolk Red
1 vine – Summerset Seedless
1 vine – Concord Seedless
1 vine – Einset
2 vines – Vanessa
1 vine – Thomcord
The Canadice (2), Einset (1), Suffolk (2), Vanessa (2) and Summerset Seedless (1) varieties are planted in a wetter part of the field which made it easier to damage the vines during the mechanical rotary hoeing and hand weeding.
We conducted 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 meeting.
Also, several individuals have visited the project during the past summer where I share my experiences.
Our farm is a pick your own apples and blueberries and many of our customers get a tour of the vineyard several times a season when they visit the farm. It is surprising how many new customers we get by word of mouth from the informal vineyard tours.
A video was produced in our vineyard “how to build vineyard” and has aired on Merrimack TV, a local town TV channel. There have been other videos created about the vineyard, one by the Town of Merrimack and another by a local film producer, all airing on local TV channels.
How do we advertise about events in the vineyard, such as UNH Cooperative Extension grape pruning demonstrations? We use the local papers and the Merrimack Agricultural Commission to inform the public about locally grown grapes in their monthly meetings. One month before any demonstration or event at the vineyard, the Merrimack Town Manager will list in her report the activities sponsored by UNH Cooperative Extension, Hillsborough County and the Merrimack Agricultural Commission. The demonstrations and events at the vineyard are listed in the local newspaper and aired on Merrimack TV.
UNH Cooperative Extension, Hillsborough County will reach out to the county or state level and list their demonstrations at the vineyard in their publications and web site.
Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm & Vineyard
183 Amherst Rd
Merrimack, NH 03054
George W. Hamilton
Extension Field Specialist, Food and Agriculture
UNH Cooperative Extension – Hillsborough County
329 Mast Road – Room 101
Goffstown, NH 03045
Phone: (603)641-6060 Fax: (603)645-5252
- Table 1, 2012 Winter Vine Survival
- Table 2, 2012 Spring Bud Survival Rating
- Table 3, 2012 Grape Vine Growth Ratings
- Table 4, 2012 Table Grape Production