DURHAM, N.H. — Those interested in the commercial production of kiwiberries, seedless table grapes, and fall-bearing strawberries are invited to the 3rd annual “Under the Vines” Field Day from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. The event will be held at the University of New Hampshire Woodman Horticultural Research Farm, a facility of the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station. It is free and open to the public.
Under the Vines is an opportunity for current and future commercial producers, value-added processors, nursery owners, and the public to visit the experiment station’s vineyards and farm, learn about current research and breeding activities, and share their knowledge, questions, and perspectives. “It’s been a productive year and we have a lot to share,” said plant breeder Iago Hale, associate professor of specialty crop improvement and leader of the kiwiberry research and breeding program.
Attendees of this year’s field day will learn about all aspects of the production this emerging specialty crop, from vineyard establishment to harvesting. Various demonstrations will be given, including pruning, weed cultivation, irrigation, and berry evaluation to determine harvest time. Hale and vineyard manager Will Hastings will also share their latest research on kiwiberry genetics (what producers need to know before buying vines) and the effects of harvest time and storage on ripening and berry quality. They will also discuss the status of a regional kiwiberry production guide and enterprise analysis, slated for completion this fall.
In 2013, Hale established a kiwiberry research and breeding program at UNH. In the first research project of its kind, he aims to develop improved, economically viable kiwiberry varieties for small farms in the northeast.
With their general adaptation to the region, their attractive appearance, intense and complex flavor profiles, high levels of bioactive compounds, and easy consumability, kiwiberries have long been recognized for their potential as a high-value crop in New England. A tender, smooth-skinned relative of the fuzzy supermarket kiwi, grape-sized kiwiberries are tropical-tasting fruits that have grown in the backyards and private gardens of the region for 140 years. Despite this long history in the region, however, virtually no commercial production exists, something Hale is determined to change.
Seedless Table Grapes
Experiment station researcher Becky Sideman, extension professor of sustainable horticulture production, and George Hamilton, extension field specialist, will discuss their seedless table grape research, which is intended to benefit regional growers interested in growing table grapes for local markets.
Sideman and Hamilton have found that certain varieties of seedless table grapes do better growing in Southern New Hampshire under low-spray conditions than other varieties. Now in its fourth year, the project aims to determine which varieties of seedless table grapes are best suited to New Hampshire production, and to determine which growing systems are best suited to those varieties. The results are particularly relevant to growers in USDA hardiness zone 5B and warmer, which corresponds approximately to the southern half of New Hampshire, and much of the rest of New England.
“Our UNH research vineyard has a nice crop of grapes this year, and we look forward to giving people an opportunity to taste the varieties that are doing well here, and to share some of the results we have learned,” Sideman said. “Our fall-bearing strawberry variety trial will also be in full swing, so those who want to learn more about this production system and taste those varieties will be able to do that, too.”
While strawberries do not grow on a vine, researcher Kaitlyn Orde will be available to discuss the experiment station’s TunnelBerries research project, which has resulted in UNH scientists quadrupling the length of the state’s strawberry season. Orde will discuss variety choice and evaluation, plant and nutrient management, and low tunnels for fall berries.
The event will conclude with kiwiberry, seedless table grape, and strawberry tasting and time for discussion. The field day is free and open to the public; however, the focus is on research for commercial production. For directions to the Woodman Horticultural Research Farm, visit:https://colsa.unh.edu/nhaes/directions/Woodman. Ample parking at the farm is free. For more information on the event, visithttps://extension.unh.edu/events/under-vines-field-day.
This material is based upon work supported by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award numbers 233561 and 1006928, and the state of New Hampshire. The seedless table grape research also is supported by the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food through NH Specialty Crop Block Grant 14-SCBGP-NH-0033.
Founded in 1887, the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture is UNH’s original research center and an elemental component of New Hampshire’s land-grant university heritage and mission. We steward federal and state funding, including support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to provide unbiased and objective research concerning diverse aspects of sustainable agriculture and foods, aquaculture, forest management, and related wildlife, natural resources and rural community topics. We maintain the Woodman and Kingman agronomy and horticultural research farms, the Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, and the Organic Dairy Research Farm. Additional properties also provide forage, forests and woodlands in direct support to research, teaching, and outreach.
The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.
–UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture
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