Vineyard Research Yields Yummy
Raisins By Marcia Wood
December 20, 2002
Some of your favorite holiday cookies or other treats might be
made with plump, juicy raisins. More than half of the world's raisins come from
the San Joaquin Valley in central California. Scientists at the ARS
San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences
Center have recently developed two kinds of appetizing raisins for growing
in this region.
ARS horticulturist David W. Ramming and technician Ronald E.
Tarailo at Parlier--where the center is headquartered--bred the raisin grapes,
known as Selma Pete and Diamond Muscat.
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
Selma Pete raisins ripen early. That trait 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. 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, giving it a key advantage over Muscat of
Alexandria. When the seeds are removed mechanically from Muscat of Alexandria
raisins, sticky, damaged fruit may result.
Ramming and Tarailo 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 contain
no fat and provide fiber, potassium and iron.
The raisin grapes are featured in the
December issue of
ARS is the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.