International Fruit Genetics, the developer of such grape varieties as Sweet Celebration and Cotton Candy, expects to see more of both on the market in 2014.
Courtesy International Fruit GeneticsCalifornia production of Sweet Celebration, a seedless red that normally ships mid- to late August and past Labor Day, is by Pandol Bros., Delano, Calif.; Castle Rock Vineyards, Delano; Jasmine Vineyards, Delano; and The Grapery, Bakersfield, Calif.
“There are around 1,400 acres in California and I believe all of it is going to start fruiting this year,” said David Cain, who heads breeding at Bakersfield-based International Fruit Genetics. “We’ve had some but not all of that in the past.
“A good portion of the vines were not in production or were first crop. This year they’re more mature.”
Pandol Bros. Inc., the largest shipper of the variety, expects 30% more volume this year than last, said John Pandol, special projects director for the Delano-based grower-shipper.
“We’ve had much better success with that variety than some growers in other parts of the world,” he said. “A lot of growers can’t seem to get it to be seedless. It’s called a seedless variety, but it depends on what you do with it.”
Courtesy www.centralmarket.comCotton Candy, a sweet August seedless green, has jumped from 100 acres of California plantings to 300 since last year. The variety was in development for more than a decade.
“In the U.S. it’s marketed exclusively by The Grapery,” Cain said. “I’m not sure how much of the acres are still being trained up and which are fruiting. But there’s been a big splash about Cotton Candy and significant acreage is coming into production this year.”
Moreover Hermosillo, Mexico, is producing its first crop of Cotton Candy in small acreage amounts.
Another IFG variety, Sweet Globe — a white seedless grape that ripens after thompson seedless — is on a test block at Fowler Packing.
“They had fruit last year on only about a six-row test block, but it performed well enough that they’re going to make a commercial planting,” Cain said. “It’s got a firm, almost crisp apple texture, crunchy with good flavor and storage characteristics.”
Jack’s Salute, a red seedless for the crimson season, is under commercial development at Lucich Farms, Delano. It’s named for the late Jack Pandol.
A black seeded IFG variety, the Sweet Jubilee, has several hundred acres planted by five or six growers and will be fruiting this year. “It’s geared to the Asian export market, where it’s done very well,” Cain said. “It’s a couple weeks ahead of red globe and fits a good window ahead of autumn royals for a black grape going to Asia. It’s larger than red globe.”
He expects the industry’s shift toward newer varieties to continue.
“They’re definitely multiplying,” he said. “There are a number of private breeding programs like ours that are releasing varieties. I think you’ll see that trend continue.”
IFG also has several experimental flavored grapes being tested this year by The Grapery. “We’re putting a lot of breeding effort into developing labrusca- and muscat-flavored grapes,” Cain said. “A couple are doing well in foreign countries.”