Those interested in the commercial production of seedless table grapes and kiwiberries are invited to the 4th annual “Under the Vines” Field Day from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. The event will be held at the University of New Hampshire Woodman Horticultural Research Farm, a facility of the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station. It is free and open to the public.
Under the Vines is an opportunity for current and future commercial producers, value-added processors, nursery owners, and the public to visit the experiment station’s vineyards and farm, learn about current research and breeding activities, and share their knowledge, questions, and perspectives.
“It’s been a productive year and we have a lot to share,” said plant breeder Iago Hale, associate professor of specialty crop improvement and leader of the kiwiberry research and breeding program.
Seedless Table Grapes: 4 to 5 p.m.
Experiment station researcher Becky Sideman, extension professor of sustainable horticulture production, and George Hamilton, extension field specialist, will discuss their seedless table grape research, which is intended to benefit regional growers interested in growing table grapes for local markets. Marta Lima, professor of agriculture, nutrition and food systems, also will be on hand to discuss her work evaluating nutritional quality of the grapes.
Sideman and Hamilton have found that certain varieties of seedless table grapes do better growing in Southern New Hampshire under low-spray conditions than other varieties. Now in its fourth year, the project aims to determine which varieties of seedless table grapes are best suited to New Hampshire production, and to determine which growing systems are best suited to those varieties. The results are particularly relevant to growers in USDA hardiness zone 5B and warmer, which corresponds approximately to the southern half of New Hampshire, and much of the rest of New England.
“Our UNH research vineyard has a nice crop of grapes this year, and we look forward to giving people an opportunity to taste the varieties that are doing well here, and to share some of the results we have learned,” Sideman said.
Kiwiberries: 5 to 6 p.m.
Attendees of this year's field day will learn about all aspects of the production of this emerging specialty crop, including vineyard establishment, management, harvesting and sorting, and post-harvest storage. Various demonstrations will be given, including pruning, weed cultivation, irrigation, and berry evaluation to determine harvest time. Hale and vineyard manager Will Hastings also will share their latest research and breeding program information, including oxalic acid research, historic germplasm collection, and program expansion. They will also discuss the new regional kiwiberry production guide and enterprise analysis.
In 2013, Hale established a kiwiberry research and breeding program at UNH. In the first research project of its kind, he aims to develop improved, economically viable kiwiberry varieties for small farms in the Northeast.
With their general adaptation to the region, their attractive appearance, intense and complex flavor profiles, high levels of bioactive compounds, and easy consumability, kiwiberries have long been recognized for their potential as a high-value crop in New England. A tender, smooth-skinned relative of the fuzzy supermarket kiwi, grape-sized kiwiberries are tropical-tasting fruits that have grown in the backyards and private gardens of the region for 140 years. Despite this long history in the region, however, very little commercial production exists, something Hale is determined to change.
The event will conclude with kiwiberry and seedless table grape tasting and time for discussion. The field day is free and open to the public; however, the focus is on research for commercial production. For directions to the Woodman Horticultural Research Farm, visit: https://colsa.unh.edu/nhaes/directions/Woodman. Ample parking at the farm is free.
This material is based upon work supported by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award numbers 233561 and 1006928, and the state of New Hampshire. The seedless table grape research also is supported by the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food through NH Specialty Crop Block Grant 14-SCBGP-NH-0033.
Founded in 1887, the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture is UNH’s original research center and an elemental component of New Hampshire's land-grant university heritage and mission. We steward federal and state funding, including support from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, to provide unbiased and objective research concerning diverse aspects of sustainable agriculture and foods, aquaculture, forest management, and related wildlife, natural resources and rural community topics. We maintain the Woodman and Kingman agronomy and horticultural research farms, the Macfarlane Research Greenhouses, the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center, and the Organic Dairy Research Farm. Additional properties also provide forage, forests and woodlands in direct support to research, teaching, and outreach.