Midwest table grape breeding

This is the guy who developed the Black Ice plum…

[quote]Table grapes cannot survive Wisconsin’s harsh winters. That could change with a little match made in grape heaven.

Smith, with a Ph.D. in plant breeding, said he’s taken California grapes and mated them with wild grapes that grow in Wisconsin called the Riverbank grape – a grape that somehow survives through harsh winters.

“The process starts with the very tiny grape flower,” Smith explained. “With a tweezers, I remove the stanum but leave the pistil. We don’t want it to self-pollinate.”[/quote]


Sounds like he might have a yellow plum and an apricot in the works. Love to see some more hardy hybrid plums for this area.


There have been breeders doing the same thing for decades. Arkansas and NY come immediately to mind. Don’t know why he thinks he’ll be any more successful. Those other programs have some good grapes, Faith, Hope, Joy, Reliance etc. But they aren’t as good as the USDA CA bred grapes and never will be. Futhermore he’s smoking weed if he thinks WI grapes will ever equal CA grapes. WI has about half the sun and heat. It’s not happening ever.

Southern Wisconsin should have plenty of sun to produce excellent fruits. I know we do here, we are a little south, not much. Well 400 miles south of the north end.
It’s worth trying for sure. Black Ice is an awesome fruit from what I hear.
The fruit I produced last year was some of the best I ever ate. Although we do get a lot of sun here, it’s not hot, but it’s sunny till after 9pm at night in the early summer. Also the latitude that runs through Bordeaux France (44 degrees) is the same as in Michigan and Wisconsin. We are in grape country! I know we have beat California wines in some competitions and our vineyards are new, wait till we have older plants. The extreme heat and sun are not conducive to all fruits.

I guess he should give up then. Cash his chips in and go home. Wisconsin is no place to grow fruit.

Drew does this sound like your typical winter?

“Bordeaux’s winters are mild, thanks to mild air from the Atlantic. Throughout December, January and February, daily highs of 10°C are normal. Nights rarely fall below freezing, but tend to hover at a chilly 3-4°C. Frosts are quite common, but snow is rare. If you’re visiting Bordeaux during the winter, bring some warm clothing with you and a coat. Something waterproof is recommended too, as this is Bordeaux’s wettest season.”

This is from a friend who lives there.

Sorry if I struck a nerve but I have grown a lot of hardy seedless and the CA type vinifera grapes. He’s suggesting WI could take 25-50% of the table grape market. I guess he should talk to ID. They think the same thing and they actually have a chance of a real industry…they have one now. Sure grapes can be grown in WI but so many other places, even west Texas have huge advantages in terms of length of season and production issues.

The commercial market likes fruit for a long season. CA grape harvest season is as long as WI growing season. Ca grape harvest is July until Dec, 6 months. How long is WI growing season, 6 months if your lucky. Grape harvest season would be 1-2 months at best.

Oh I forgot they harvest table grapes in May and June in Coachella Valley of CA.

How does a northern state take 25-50% market share from an area with a 7-8 month harvest season? They don’t.

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I’m not sure if Mr. Smith was talking about 25-50% of the US market share or just the local market share (he refers to locavores later in the article). Regardless, there’s plenty of fruit growers up north that will be happy to have more options.

I’ve spoken with Mr. Smith before and he seems like a genuine and passionate breeder and has plans to release 2 or more new hybrid plums in the next couple years, one of which is RF98-95-17-7.

Sounds pretty good. Did he mention what he was thinking of naming it?

Our average high temp for December, January, and February is 3C. Not that different! They have the Atlantic, we have the Great Lakes. The places are more similar than different. Slightly colder, not much. Averages are from NOAA. We grow our grapes in the spring too, and I’ll put our spring up against any other place. Conditions are near perfect.Michigan will never make as much as CA, but we can make a very decent product, and even topple CA in competitions at times, if we have an excellent year… So it is certainly worth doing. I never was a huge fan of French wine myself, I prefer Italian.It’s just my taste. If I don’t buy MI wine, I buy Italian, sometimes Armenian too.

There is no doubt Michigan has a great fruit growing climate, however, I think you are comparing your average winter highs to the average winter lows in Bordeaux. Regardless, Brian Smith is breeding table grapes near the Twin Cities with a recorded extreme minimum of -47F (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?wi7226). That’s cold.

Yellow Ice? :slight_smile: I have no idea.

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That sounds disgusting. :laughing:

Well being at the same latitude was really my point, and I started buying more MI wines too. I don’t drink a lot of wine. Currently I’m interested in making my own. I will be looking into it more. I need something to do with elderberries and high bush cranberries. I do drink vodka a lot too. The judging for the World Drinks Awards 2017 has taken place, and the results are in. Valentine Distilling Co. has done it again! Valentine Vodka has been named “World’s Best” for the second year in a row. In 2016, Valentine took home the awards for “World’s Best Vodka” and “World’s Best Varietal” in the vodka category. This year, Valentine brings home the “World’s Best Varietal” vodka award for the second time.