Two newly released grape varieties, developed between Cornell AgriTech and Bakersfield, California-based Sun World International, a global fruit genetics and licensing company, offer new flavors for consumers and better growing characteristics for farmers.
Sugrafiftytwo, an ultra-early ripening green seedless grape variety with a muscat flavor, and Sugrasixty, a midseason red variety with large berries and a tropical aroma of mango, are the fruit of a 13-year collaboration between Cornell AgriTech and Sun World. Following the release of these varieties, Sun World enables growers around the world to produce these Cornell-Sun World varieties and introduces them with consumer-friendly brand names.
Through the partnership, the royalties from the commercialization of the varieties developed by both organizations will continue to flow back to support the Cornell Grape Breeding and Genetics Program, which is led by Bruce Reisch, professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“With the right varieties, the Eastern table grape industry might consider expanding,” Reisch said. “That could drive economic development through tourism, farm markets and home enthusiasts. Many home growers are interested in doing something new.”
Reisch credits Cornell’s partnership with Sun World for making the development of these new varieties possible.
Sugarfiftytwo and Sugrasixty are the first grape varieties resulting from the partnership, which began in 2009.
The new flavors were developed through crossbreeding at Cornell that took advantage of its collection of germplasm, the genetic material in grapes that controls the expression of certain traits. Although all breeding collections include germplasm, Cornell’s is special; since 1888, scientists at Cornell AgriTech have built expertise in breeding table and wine grapes suited to New York state’s climate and grower needs.
For the past 42 years, Reisch has focused on developing improved genetic and trait-marker technology to mine the genetic diversity of wild and native American grape species; and speed the release of new varieties with desirable traits like powdery mildew resistance, cold-hardiness and early ripening.
The Sun World partnership unlocks research efficiencies for Reisch’s program and its future. The steady stream of funding for public specialty crop research helps insulate it from the vagaries of grant cycles. Cornell’s breeding program also has access to Sun World germplasm with seedlessness, storage and shipping traits.
And when the growing season is over in New York, Reisch can use Sun World’s West Coast Center for Innovation to accelerate his lab’s pace of discovery while maintaining Cornell’s commitment to quality cold-climate grapes.
Sun World varieties are marketed under various grape varietal brands such as AutumnCrisp, Midnight Beauty, Sable Seedless, Adora Seedless, Scarlotta Seedless, Sophia Seedless and Superior Seedless and stone fruit varietal brands, such as Black Diamond plums and Honeycot apricots.
For more information, visit sun-world.com.