The organic grape category has been growing with help from higher-yielding varieties. ( Courtesy Homegrown Organic Farms )

Organic table grapes make up another category that is growing at a rapid pace, said Stephen Paul, category director for Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif.

The company just picked up a new program that offers some unique items, like champagne grapes and “natural” thompson grapes, which are not girdled or treated with gibberellic acid.

They are extremely sweet and “one of the oldest varieties around in this valley,” Paul said.

The industry also is excited about a new slate of table grapes coming on line, he said.

“The next generation of varieties are just gorgeous,” he said.

He said they include:

  • Ivory — “a delicious green seedless” variety;
  • Timpson seedless — “a gorgeous, elongated green grape”;
  • Great Green — “big, beautiful, crunchy, sweet and a nice color”;
  • Kelly — a green seedless grape offered in September and October;
  • Magenta — “a big, beautiful red grape that is sweet and crunchy with good color”; and
  • Timco — a large, red, crunchy grape sold under the France Ranch label.

A notable characteristic of the new varieties is their ability to produce, Paul said.

In the past, 500-800 boxes per acre was pretty much the norm, but some new varieties can produce 1,500 to 2,000 or sometimes 2,500 boxes per acre, he said.

“All of a sudden, not only do you have these new varieties coming in, you have this tremendous output of productivity,” he said.

The proliferation of organic grapes resulting from new varieties and improved farming techniques may slow the “gravy train of some of those big premiums on organics,” Paul said, but he added that a good grower still can make a decent profit from them.

“If you produce a good quality grape, and you’re a good grower, and you have a good label that’s consistent, you can still maintain a premium because there’s no substitute for quality,” he said.

 
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