University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture releases four new grapes and a blackberry

June 25, 2012
Contact Information:

John Clark, University Professor of Horticulture
479-575-2810, jrclark@uark.edu

Fred Miller, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Communications
479-575-5647, fmiller@uark.edu

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john clark and osage

Fruit breeder John Clark shows Osage, a new blackberry variety released by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
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osage blackberry

The Osage blackberry has very good flavor, yield and storage characteristics.
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hope grapes

The Hope seedless table grapes.
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joy grapes

The Joy seedless table grapes.
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VIDEO: Dr. John R. Clark, University Professor of Horticulture, describes the desirable characteristics of Joy, a 2012 table grape released from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. See http://bit.ly/16O5na6.

VIDEO:
Dr. John R. Clark, University Professor of Horticulture, describes the desirable characteristics of Hope, a 2012 table grape released from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. See http://bit.ly/16bjnfF.

VIDEO:
Dr. John Clark, University Professor of Horticulture, describes the desirable characteristics of Gratitude table grape, a 2012 release from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture fruit breeding program. See http://bit.ly/GPO7aj.

VIDEO:
Dr. John R. Clark, University Professor of Horticulture, describes the desirable characteristics of Faith Table Grape, a 2012 release from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. See http://bit.ly/1fxJa4P.

VIDEO:
Dr. John Clark, University Professor of Horticulture, describes the exceptional flavor and other attributes of Osage, a blackberry variety released by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. See http://youtu.be/EXu0_TcxGUk.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has released four new seedless table grapes suited for local markets.

Faith, Hope, Joy, and Gratitude seedless table grapes are the ninth through twelfth grape cultivars developed by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said John Clark, University Professor of horticulture and head of the fruit breeding program. These releases expand options for table grape growers for local markets in Arkansas and much of the United States, he said. All four cultivars have non-slipskin flesh with good skin quality, fruit cracking resistance and good vine health and winter hardiness.

Osage is the thirteenth in a series of erect-growing, high-quality, productive, floricane-fruiting blackberry varieties, Clark said. Osage has improved flavor components, including more desirable texture and aroma.

“As a boy, I remember blackberries mainly went into cobblers,” Clark said. “We never sat around and just ate them. With Osage and other Arkansas varieties, I want blackberries to be good enough for consumers to enjoy all alone, along with other more traditional uses.”

Clark said improving the eating experience, including flavor and sweetness, has long been one of the emphases of the Division of Agriculture’s blackberry breeding efforts. “Navaho, released in 1989, was our first blackberry with excellent flavor, as well as storage and handling characteristics,” he said. “And subsequent releases including Ouachita, the most successful variety so far, all have improvements in flavor.”

Osage ripens mid-early, slightly before Ouachita and just after Natchez begins harvest, Clark said. Osage produces medium-sized berries, comparable to Ouachita. Osage has excellent postharvest quality for shipping to fresh markets in addition to local markets. Clark expects that Osage will complement Ouachita in the mid-early to mid-season harvest period. Plants should be available from tissue culture sources in 2013.

Clark said the four new table grapes are products of the division’s long-running focus on quality and adaptation to Arkansas growing conditions that began in 1964 under the direction of James N. Moore, Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

“We have an interesting array of traits in these grapes,” Clark said. “We have two blues and two whites, two fruity-flavored grapes and two neutral-flavored with a range of harvest dates.”

Faith is blue-fruited, slight fruity to neutral in flavor, semi-crisp, and ripens in late July to early August, the earliest of the four. Hope is green-fruited, has a fruity flavor, is rather soft in texture, has high production potential, and ripens near August 19. Joy is blue-fruited with exceptional fruity flavor but very soft texture, ripens the first or second week of August. Gratitude berries are green with exceptional flesh crispness, and neutral flavor, ripening usually in late August.

These cultivars, in addition to prior releases from the program (including Mars, Jupiter, and Neptune) provide for a range of harvest dates and choices of fruit colors, shapes, textures, and flavors for local market growers, Clark said. The new grapes should be adapted statewide, although are more highly recommended for production from Central to Northern/Northwest Arkansas where bunch grape production is more commonly practiced

Clark noted that these new releases mark a shift in the program’s naming strategy for grapes. Formerly, most grapes from the Arkansas breeding program — Jupiter, Mars, Neptune for example — were named for planets. “We used up all the good planet names,” he said.

“Plant breeding is both a science and an art,” Clark said. “It requires inspiration. Faith, hope, joy and gratitude are all key elements in the philosophy of plant breeding, just as they are in life.”

More information about these and other University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture fruit varieties, including a list of sources where plants can be obtained, is available online: http://www.aragriculture.org/horticulture/fruits_nuts/default.htm.