Plump, sweet and delicious Autumn King seedless grapes may soon become a favorite fresh-fruit snack for fall. This new, light-greentechnically known as "white"grape from Agricultural Research Service plant geneticists in California is firm, juicy and ready to harvest in late October.
That's about the time the U.S. harvest of another white seedless grape, summertime classic Thompson Seedless, is winding down.
What's more, Autumn King stays firm and sweet in cold storage, meaning that it may be available through late December.
The attractive, amply-sized grape is larger than Thompson Seedless, according to ARS horticulturist David W. Ramming, who developed the grape over nearly a decade of research and testing. He worked in collaboration with plant technician Ronald L. Tarailo. Both are with the agency's San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center near Parlier, Calif.
Autumn King, patented by the scientists and licensed to the industry-sponsored California Table Grape Commission, Fresno, was made available for the first time last year for grapevine nurseries to sublicense. So far, sublicensees havein allgrown more than 100,000 young Autumn King grapevines for planting in central California's commercial vineyards, where most of the nation's fresh-market grapes are grown.
Fruit from these vines may begin showing up in supermarket produce sections within two to three years.
Autumn King joins the series of superior white, red and blue-black fresh-market and raisin grapes that the expert Parlier team has developed. Some of those grapesthough not Autumn Kinggot their start in life from a laboratory technique called embryo rescue. Ramming was the first to successfully apply, and refine, the technique specifically for breeding seedless grapes.
Plant physiologist Richard L. Emershad of Ramming's group carries out the procedure. He carefully excises undersized, otherwise-doomed embryos that result when two seedless grapes parent a new seedless offspring. Then he nurtures embryos on a gel of special nutrients until they form a plant that's ready for the greenhouse and, later, the vineyard.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.