Commercial Horticulture - Fruits and Nuts
Grape production worldwide is based on table, wine, juice and raisin
production. The major effort in Arkansas has been on improving table grapes
adapted to the state and region. The most common table grapes found in
supermarkets are Vitis vinifera, produced mostly in California. Lacking
cold hardiness and disease resistance, varieties of V. vinifera are not
adapted to Arkansas or most other states east of the Rocky Mountains.
Eastern grapes, including table grapes, are hybrids of V. vinifera
V. labrusca, with V. labrusca providing hardiness, reduced
disease susceptibility and substantial fruit flavor. Pure V. labrusca fruit are very
flavorful, with the most common flavor being the "foxiness" found with Concord
and other eastern varieties. They have a slipskin-type texture where the pulp
does not adhere to the skin. This texture is not crisp and is distinctly
different than that of the non-slipskin V. vinifera varieties familiar
to most consumers.
Among the Arkansas varieties are both non-slipskin and slipskin choices. The
Arkansas-developed varieties, hybrids of these two species, are not resistant or
immune to several devastating fungal diseases black rot, downy and powdery
mildews and anthracnose. Because these varieties were developed in a cultural
system using a commercial grape fungicide program, growers of Arkansas table
grapes should be familiar with the use of appropriate fungicides to control the
above-listed diseases. Without controlling these diseases, Arkansas-developed
varieties will not produce reliable yields.
Although developed in the South, the Arkansas varieties are not resistant to
the most devastating grape disease in the deep South - Pierce's disease.
These varieties are not recommended where Pierce's disease is a threat.
Grape production requires selection of the appropriate trellis and training
system and the knowledge to develop the vines on the trellis. Training is needed
mainly in the first and second years of growth. A few clusters per vine can be
borne on second-year vines if first-year growth is adequate, but the third year
is more commonly the time of substantial cropping. A description of Arkansas
varieties and their characteristics follows.
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