Consumers will soon be able to purchase new varieties of fresh grapes grown in Canada, thanks to a research project currently underway at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) in Vineland Station, Ont.
“Sovereign Coronation grapes bred by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Summerland, British Columbia are the most widely cultivated table grapes in Canada,” says Michael Kauzlaric, Technology Scout & Grower Outreach, Vineland. “Vineland is scouting the world for new fresh grape varieties suited to our climate with consumer appeal.”
“This project provides a unique opportunity for the Ontario table grape industry to diversify and reach new consumers with seedless grape varieties to replace imports,” adds Sarah Marshall, manager, Ontario Tender Fruit Growers.
Vineland imported six seedless grape cultivars (three green and three blue) in 2014 from a U.S. breeding program for testing, with anticipated commercial release beginning in 2018. Five selections are also in quarantine at a Canadian Food Inspection Agency facility to check for viruses before being planted at the Vineland research test block.
“2016 is the first season where fruit in the test block will be evaluated. A number of characteristics will be assessed including yield, fruit quality along with pest and disease susceptibility and cold tolerance,” says Kauzlaric. “The structure of grape clusters is also of importance and one main goal for breeders is to develop bunches the shape of the African continent.”
Funding for this project is being provided through the AgriInnovation program under Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, with additional contributors including Ontario Tender Fruit Growers, Ontario Fresh Grape Growers, Vinetech Canada Inc. and the University of Guelph.