USDA Developing New Grape Cultivars

USDA breeders, aiming to improve the bottom line of the California raisin industry, are developing a new generation of grape cultivars having lower production costs and greater consumer health benefits.

David Ramming, breeder at USDAs Parlier, Calif., center, and his associates are pursuing four objectives: natural drying on the vine without cane-cutting; resistance to powdery mildew; resistance to Pierces disease; and high anthocyanins content.

Key in the crossing and selection of new seedless cultivars for all four objectives is the embryo rescue technique, developed by Ramming and his colleagues in the early 1980s, which allows hybridization of seedless by seedless grapes.

In detailing progress with the projects during the annual San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium at Easton, Ramming said previous work on early-maturing seedless raisin types resulted in the Fiesta, DOVine, and Selma Pete varieties.

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