That’s why it was named after Mount Everest, says Bruce Reisch, a horticulture professor and grape breeder at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, N.Y. But it was also named because of what’s not there: Seeds.
The Everest Seedless is a juicy, sweet and blue grape that’s meant to be eaten fresh, rather than put into juices or jams. It’s the first truly seedless Concord-type grape ever released, according to the school.
“For people who like the flavors of Eastern grapes, this one really fits the bill,” Reisch said earlier this month.
The Everest Seedless is just one of three new fruits created and released this fall from Cornell, which has the nation’s oldest berry breeding program. The grape plants will be available later this year; the berry plants will be for sale in the spring.
Crimson Treasure is a sweet red raspberry that produces uniform and firm fruit that holds up well in transport. Under the right conditions, these berries can last nearly two weeks in refrigeration, says berry breeder and Associate Professor Courtney Weber.
Cornell professor breeds new raspberry: Crimson Treasure
The Dickens strawberry – named after Charles Dickens – is a late producer. It ripens in about the third week of June, even as the weather warms. And each plant produces about a pound of strawberries.
The red berries are the ninth and tenth creations from Weber, who’s been at Cornell for nearly two decades.
Reisch has been breeding grapes at Cornell for 38 years. “I’ve lost count,” when asked how many grapes he’s helped create. The Everest Seedless is the first table grape to come out of Cornell in 14 years.
In the early stages of research, Reisch says he considers what eater and growers want. “What do you want in a new grape?” he said. “No grape out there is perfect.”
Both breeders use traditional breeding techniques to create new varieties. They bring parent plants together whose traits they’d like to blend or strengthen.
Sometimes that’s resistance to disease or cold weather; other times, the selection factors involve taste, size or even the thickness of a grape skin.
Despite heat, humidity and the occasional flood, it’s looks like a good year.
The parents are bred then grown in Cornell’s fields just outside of Geneva, N.Y. The process can take years. Some of the varieties they produce are better for local markets in the Finger Lakes and in Central New York. Others travel the world: Crimson Treasure is being test grown in California and at international markets, Weber said.
Naming fruits presents its own challenge. The fruits are patented, and their names can’t be too similar to existing fruits. Weber has been naming strawberries after his favorite authors. The Crimson Treasure is the third in a series of red berries created at Cornell; the Crimson Night is under license in Japan.
Cornell University professors Courtney Weber and Bruce Reisch breed new fruit varieties in Geneva, N.Y. Weber’s newest breed is a raspberry called Crimson Treasure and Reisch’s new breed is a grape called Everest Seedless.
All three new varieties are good for backyard growers and local farmers, the breeders said. They hope the new fruit will add diversity to local farmers markets.
“We want growers at their markets to have something besides what you can get in the supermarkets,” Weber said, “to have a reason for people to come and look for something that’s special or different.”
More about the new fruits:
Traits: Large fruit, as much as 7 grams per berry, with a juicy inside and a thin, crisp skin. Tolerant of temps as low as 10 to 15 degrees below zero.
Disease/pests: Moderately resistant to downy mildew and powdery mildew. Insects don’t seem interested in the variety in Cornell’s fields.
Taste: Grapey, with a sweet, cotton candy aroma.
Season: Fall crop
Color: Blue, almost black-purple blue.
Market: Local markets in Upstate New York and into the Midwest.
How to buy: Double A Vineyards of Fredonia, N.Y. The nursery will sell the grape vines for the next 10 years and sends royalties back to Cornell’s breeding program.
Traits: Canes produce clusters of berries that are dense and easy to pick. The fruit is uniform in size and shape and is less likely to bruise compared with other raspberries. Each berry can be 4 to 6 grams.
Disease/pests: Crimson Treasure has been very resilient regarding diseases. It shows good resistance to root rot, leaf spot and powdery mildew which are the three main diseases in the area.
Taste: More sweet than tart.
Season: Fall, though berries will grow on smaller canes, close to the ground, in spring.
Color: bright red
Market: Local, national and worldwide.
How to buy: The raspberry canes will be available from North American Plants in McMinnville, Oregon, to wholesalers.
Traits: Firm berries that hold well on the plant and in the container. Hardy in cold winters. Can produce as much as a pound of berries per plant.
Disease/pests: Dickens has been trialed in heavy root rot locations and has been superior in growth. It is resistant to powdery mildew, leaf spot and leaf blight. It is mildly susceptible to leaf scorch.
Season: Ready in the third week of June.
Color: At ripeness, it’s a brighter and darker red. That means growers can pick close to peak ripeness.
Market: Meant for local, Upstate New York markets and stores.
How to buy: The Dickens strawberry plants will be available from Nourse Farms in Whately, Massachusetts.