Author Topic: Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity  (Read 1524 times)

reed

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Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity
« on: 2019-01-15, 08:45:22 AM »
The notion of making new varieties of grapes that can just be turned loose in the neighborhood is one of my most favorite breeding projects but also the least successful so far. Maybe the biggest reason for the failure is it has mostly just been a daydream that generally pops up while out picking wild grapes for jelly but I have made some first step progress by acquiring about a dozen kinds of wine and table varieties, all ones that grow on their own roots. I have little interest in grafting so I think own root vines are best for trying my crosses. Also I think it probably means they all have wild American ancestors so they are already related.

My neighborhood wild grapes come in quite a variety and I'v planted seeds from my favorite ones here and there around the yard. My absolute favorite and most productive vine was already here, growing in some big cedar trees in what became the yard when I built the house. Recently a limb form a dead Ash tree fell and bent one the cedars over, yea! Cause in doing so it brought lots more of my grapes into easy reach.

All my purchased vines are up to production size now and I'v learned how to successfully clone them and I have managed to sprout a few seeds. I sell some of my clones at a swap meet and plant some along the road and in the woods near where wild grapes are growing. My brilliant scheme that they would just cross and the offspring would go wild wasn't so brilliant after all because the commercial vines and the wild ones don't coincide in bloom.

I'm gonna have to get more personally involved to get my crosses but I found this great article from Cornell that tells me how to go about it. http://evunix.uevora.pt/~apeixe/Aulas/viticultura/Grape%20Breeding%20Procedures.pdf. I didn't even know till I read it that some or many of the wild grapes are likely not hermaphrodites.  That might actually work wonderfully in my favor.

My favorite vine I mentioned is hugely productive so it is certainly female or has perfect flowers.  I'll find out next year but if by chance it is female that would be perfect cause it blooms after the commercial clones. And from reading that same paper it sounds like it isn't that hard to collect and preserve pollen, certainly just for the few weeks I'll need to do so. If my favorite does have perfect flowers it also sound like emasculating them isn't as hard as I thought it would be. And if offspring from the crosses come out male and female I can also plant the males to carry genes for larger fruit into the wild population that way.

Like I said we already have a variety of wild grapes, they produce well, and they resist about all diseases the tame ones get but they are small, sometimes more seed than grape and most don't taste all that good. 

All I really want is to make a population of wild grapes that make larger fruits. Red, and white ones would be really cool too as all the wild ones are black. If it works I plan to scatter them everywhere in my neighborhood so years from now people or just critters for all I care, have something good to munch or get drunk on.

 
« Last Edit: 2019-01-15, 08:52:09 AM by reed »

Richard Watson

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Re: Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity
« Reply #1 on: 2019-01-15, 10:24:01 AM »
Wild grapes would just not happen here, well they might grow vines but it would be a race against the birds, bloody things would eat my table grape before ripe if I didnt bag them.
So where did these wild grapes originate from?
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial shingle

reed

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Re: Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity
« Reply #2 on: 2019-01-15, 11:00:53 AM »
I have plenty of issue with birds too, stupid things. They don't bother the wild ones as much, I think cause there are just so many of them and they are better hidden in tree branches and weeds. The big ones in the yard are so much easier from a birds perspective too, I guess.

There are a number of truly wild grapes that are native to North America, don't know exactly how many.  The first commercial winery in the US was in the county where I live, or so the story goes. That was about 1806 if I remember right but the people who did it failed not far away in Kentucky before that. Early attempts a wineries were also in Arkansas and Texas, probably other places too. Finally different ones did get wineries going using European grapes but a blight in the late 1800s wiped it all out. I think they had already experimented with grafting and crossing even before then but after that they had too, the European varieties just wouldn't grow here at least on their own roots.

It's possible that some of our wild ones, especially some that grow down by the river are left over descendants of hybrids but I can''t know that for sure. And if they were, why didn't it happen more and why doesn't it still happen?  I'v heard lots of stories of wild hybrids in Arkansas and Texas but the ones I'v seen just look and taste like another American native called Muscadine whose preferences are a little too Southerly to grow here.

I don't know why the modern crosses with their bigger European fruits and their American like roots and disease resistance don't go wild especially with birds pooping their seeds out all over the place but I'v visited lots of places with old grape vines and haven't found any, so I'm gonna try fix it. 
« Last Edit: 2019-01-15, 11:03:28 AM by reed »

Walt

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Re: Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity
« Reply #3 on: 2019-01-15, 12:32:55 PM »
Back before I retired, I thought a  perfect retirement would be crossing female grapes with hermathrodite grapes, and female strawberries with hermathrodite strawberries.  Then plant the seeds and in each generation go down the rows taste testing the fruit.  What could be better?  But now
I'm involved it hardy citrus and that takes my time.
But from my reading it seems female x hermathrodite gives 50% female and 50% hermathrodite.

Richard Watson

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Re: Increasing and Improving Wild Grape Diversity
« Reply #4 on: 2019-01-15, 03:04:38 PM »
Its a wonder that grapes haven't got themselfs established gave the number of vineyards within a 50km of here, they do use nets but seeing the amount of holes in these nets birds must get over and eat some. It may well be too dry for the seed to germinate and it would only be in the shingle river beds were it could, all other areas are farm land so sheep and cattle would make short work of any seedling.
I did get a grape seedling in my compost heap in spring, Ive got that now planted out so it will be interesting to see what comes of that 
Changeable climate manly during winter & spring - 500mm average yearly rainfall. 20 years of soil improvements plus sub soil top soil reversal means my garden beds are about half metre deep. Below that is 100's of metres of alluvial shingle