UNH Kiwiberrry Fall Field Day/Under the Vines

UNH is hosting their fall Field Day again this year, focusing on Hardy kiwi, seedless grapes, and figs. It’s August 28 from 2-4. I can’t go this year, but someone here ought to go! They’re limiting it to 50 people, so you need to register:

It’s geared toward commercial production, but the general public is welcome.

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Did anyone go to this? I’m curious about how it was.

@jesses Did you go?

This year’s event is scheduled for tomorrow at 3. I’m planning on attending. Anyone else coming?
@JesseinMaine @SMC_zone6 @mamuang

From the email:

2022 Kiwiberry Field Day (no registration necessary)

When: Friday, September 16, 2022; 3-5 PM

Where: UNH Woodman Farm - 70 Spinney Lane, Durham, NH

Our annual Field Day is an opportunity for current and future commercial producers, value-added processors, nurseries, and members of the public to come visit our research vineyard, learn about the ongoing activities of our kiwiberry improvement program, and share their knowledge, questions, and perspectives. This year’s highlights include new insights into pruning, chemical weed control, postharvest management, advanced selections, and understory companion crops.

Please note: We’re hosting our Field Day concurrently with the NHAES field day for hydrangeas and seedless table grapes . You’ll get 30 mins of hydrangeas (3-3:30), 30 mins of grapes (3:30-4), and 60 mins of kiwiberries (4-5). What a deal!

I made it to the Field Day, and it was great! They started off talking about their Hydrangea cut flower trials. It was neat to see so many different varieties side by side, and to hear about their relative performance in the ground and as cut flowers.

Next, they talked about grapes. The big take homes from the grapes were that a good, flexible fungicide program is essential if you’re counting on a crop every year, and the best varieties (in their opinion) for commercial producers in the region are Mars, Canadice, Vanessa, and Lakemont. These varieties had the best blend of flavor, production, and ease of management. They had some grapes of Canadice, Vanessa, Lakemont, and Concord (both seeded and seedless) for us to try. They were all excellent, far better than most grapes you can buy in the supermarket. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be vanesssa. They also had a good demonstration of two different training systems. One of their current research projects is to compare yields, sugar levels, and flavor among a few different fruit thinning strategies.

And then the main event: kiwiberries! It was great to see an established vineyard in person. They’ve done a lot of work, starting with sorting out all available varieties genetically. It turns out there are a lot of varieties being sold under multiple names, as well as many vendors not actually having the varieties they thought they did! From there, they went on to trialing existing varieties and breeding new varieties. They use a genetic marker to weed out the males before planting in the orchard, and they now have a handful of new varieties (out of thousands!) they’re looking for farmers to trial.

As for existing varieties, they said that Ananasnaya is by far their best producer, but the flavor can be “off” some years. So they recommend Geneva 3 as the go-to variety. It produces less than Anna, but the flavor is consistently good. It was a little early for ripening, but they managed to find enough ripe Geneva 3 for folks to try. They were very tasty.

They had some interesting notes on culture and harvest. By carefully selecting when they prune and how they train, they were able to get vines producing in as little as 3 years after planting. They also said that they don’t need to spray for anything. As for harvest, their recommendation is to test the brix until you get an average reading of 8, then pick everything. The berries won’t be ready to eat, but they ripen well off the vine and picking at this stage sidesteps any issues with insects, birds, and other critters. You can then store them under high-humidity refrigeration for up to 6 weeks and pull them out to ripen as needed.

And, as a bonus, they said to take some grapes home! I happily obliged. My family was also happy to get to try the different varieties.

All in all a great event. They’re up to some pretty cool things over at UNH.

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Great description of event and photos. I love this type of field day- hosted by committed gardeners with a lifetime of experience! And nothing like taste the grapes to know what you have to plant!

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Great report, I’ve always enjoyed the event in the past but couldn’t make it this year. Did you see the fig trial?

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I did! They did not present on it, but it looked great!

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