ARS horticulturist David W. Ramming and technician Ronald
E. Tarailo at Parlierwhere the center is headquarteredbred
the new Selma Pete and Diamond Muscat raisin grapes.
Vines of Selma Pete produce impressive quantities of seedless
grapes, which are then dried to form good-sized raisins. What's more,
Selma Pete raisins can dry on the vine after the canes that bear the
grapes are cut. This feature makes them ideal for mechanical harvesting
and thus cuts costs. Ramming named Selma Pete after longtime collaborator
L. Peter Christensen, who is now retired from the University of California's
Cooperative Extension Service.
Selma Pete raisins ripen early and thus are ready to harvest
sooner than many other kinds of grapes. Earliness is a boon for growers,
Ramming points out, because "it reduces the chance that the crop
could be damaged by unseasonably early rains in the fall."
Earliness is also a prized trait of Diamond Muscat, so
named because "it's a jewel of a grape," he notes. With its
rich, fruity, muscat-flavor, this grape provides an important alternative
to Muscat of Alexandria, the muscat most commonly used to make dessert
wines or confections such as chocolate-covered raisins. Diamond Muscat
is seedless. That's a key advantage over Muscat of Alexandria, which
has to be mechanically deseededresulting in sticky, damaged raisins.
Ramming and Tarailo recently made Diamond Muscat and Selma
Pete available to growers and nurseries. This came after a decade of
research during which they inspected more than 400 experimental vines
of each variety and sampled some of the 24,000 pounds of fresh raisins
from these vines. Both raisin grapes are descendants of parent vines
developed in the early 1900s by USDA scientists in California.
Besides being fun to eat, raisins are good for you: they
are fat free and cholesterol free, and provide fiber, potassium, and
Wood, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
This research is part of Plant, Microbial, and Insect
Genetic Resources, Genomics, and Genetic Improvement, an ARS National
Program (#301) described on the World Wide Web at http://www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
W. Ramming and Ronald E. Tarailo
are with the USDA-ARS San Joaquin
Valley Agricultural Sciences Center, 9611 S. Riverbend Ave., Parlier,
CA 93648; phone (559) 596-2790, fax (559) 596-2791.
"Yummy New Raisins From Our Vineyard to Your Table"
was published in the December
2002 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.