ITHACA, N.Y. — The newest offering from Cornell University’s grape breeders is a fruit that’s big, bold and comes with a towering history.
Those factors led the grape’s breeders to name the new variety Everest Seedless, a nod to the celebrated Nepalese mountain, said Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and grape breeder with Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York.
“We were looking to develop very flavorful grapes with large berries and large clusters, and we’ve achieved that with Everest Seedless,” Reisch said.
The new variety is a cold-tolerant, blue-colored Concord-type, with berries that weigh up to 7 grams – roughly twice the size of the traditional Concord. It is also the first truly seedless Concord-type grape ever released. It’s intended as a table grape – meant primarily for eating fresh, rather than using for jams, juice or wine, as most American Concords are used.
“Everest is one of the largest mountains in the world, and this is one very large grape,” Reisch said. “With its formidable ancestry and big flavor, we feel this variety can live up to its name.”
The grape is tolerant of midwinter temperatures as low as 10 to 15 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, making it suitable for most of the grape-growing regions in New York, and into the Midwest. It’s moderately resistant to downy mildew and powdery mildew, the most troublesome grape diseases in the Northeast.
Insects don’t seem to bother these grapes, according to Reisch, who said the variety has thrived in research vineyards where insecticides are not applied, but insects could be a problem at other locations.
Because the grapes are relatively easy to grow and produce large, flavorful, seedless berries, Reisch predicts they will become popular with home gardeners as well as professional growers. Everest Seedless is being exclusively licensed in the U.S. to Double A Vineyards of Fredonia, New York, for 10 years, and vines can be purchased from them starting this fall.
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