New table grape bonds great flavor to enticing texture
By Fred Miller
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Aug. 25, 2017
- Division releases new seedless white table grape
- “Passion” is latest in “inspiration” series of seedless table grapes
- New grape combines great fruity flavor with crisp texture
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A new seedless, white table grape from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture combines the crisp texture of California table grapes with thin skin with the rich, fruity flavor blend of eastern table grapes.
“Passion” joins the lineup of inspiration-themed table grapes developed by the Division of Agriculture’s fruit breeding program, said John R. Clark, Distinguished Professor of horticulture and program director.
The other inspiration table grapes are the black grapes “Faith” and “Joy” and white grapes “Hope” and “Gratitude.”
Earlier table grape releases from the Division of Agriculture were Venus, Reliance, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune.
Clark said “Passion” was the pinnacle of achievement for an effort begun by James N. Moore, who founded the Division of Agriculture fruit breeding program in 1964.
Moore wanted to develop seedless table grapes that could be grown in Arkansas, Clark said. He wanted to combine the thin-skinned, crispy texture of California grapes with the fruity flavor of eastern grapes. Crosses were made over a 45-year period to achieve this goal.
“Crisp texture is one of the most outstanding attributes of ‘Passion,’” Clark said.
The texture comes from its California Vitis vinifera heritage and its skin is non-slipskin and thinner at full maturity than other Arkansas grapes, Clark said.
“The exquisite fruity flavor is from the eastern Vitis labrusca and includes some aspects of muscat from Vitis vinifera,” Clark said.
On a flavor scale used to evaluate selections, Clark said “Passion” is comparable to “Jupiter,” a popular grape from the division’s breeding program, and rates higher than other Arkansas grapes.
Fruit ripens at the Fruit Research Station near Clarksville from early August into September, Clark said. The average mid-season harvest date was Aug. 22.
“Passion” ripens usually two weeks later than “Jupiter” and nearly the same time as “Hope.”
The berries are medium-sized, Clark said and are elongated oval in shape. The color is green at maturity and the berries are consistent in color. Clark said he noted that the fruit has reduced green color and a more amber appearance when exposed to direct sunlight at maturity.
The grape grows in medium-sized clusters that ranged in weight from about half a pound to 1 pound in replicated trials, Clark said. That makes it larger than Jupiter in three out of five years and larger than all other Arkansas grapes except Gratitude in three-vine plot comparisons.
The clusters are well-filled to tight, which may contribute to fruit rot when berries are closely spaced.
Fruit cracking is usually a problem for grapes in climates with summer rains that occur during fruit maturity. But Clark said “Passion” usually produced fruit that did not crack even with occasional rain showers near harvest.
Some fruit cracking was seen in evaluations when heavy rains occurred near harvest, he said.
Bud break was six to 10 days later than “Jupiter,” which Clark said is desirable because it can reduce frost damage to developing buds. Vine health is good and consistent year-to-year, even with low winter temperatures, and the plants were observed to have good leaf color, usually with no disease.
Diseases that were occasionally seen were powdery and downy mildew, even when fungicides were applied, Clark said. Fungal diseases are common in grapes grown in humid environments like that in Arkansas. Passion, like other Arkansas table grapes, requires a commercial fungicide spray schedule to insure successful production.
“Passion” will be available from licensed propagators of Division of Agriculture fruit varieties. A list of licensed propagators can be found online: https://www.uaex.edu/farm-ranch/crops-commercial-horticulture/horticulture/commercial-fruit-production/.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service