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Published on Sep 20, 2011
On today's episode, Behind the Greens meets with Terry Beacon, of Sun World. As director of Sun World's Variety Development Center, Beacon's task is to improve and enhance an already spectacular fruit. The company is introducing a variety of late-season, seedless, table grapes. The late-season white, seedless table grape is grower friendly and sizes naturally to around an inch and has an incredible flavor. Another of Sun World's varietals is the late-season black seedless table grape. The naturally big grape has a delicious flavor and unlike other black grapes, has virtually no seed trace. During the last week in September through October, when the color, aroma and sugars of the late black seedless grapes have developed, the fruit will begin to be picked. Both varieties of grapes will be marketed with the Scarlotta Seedless brand grapes. This allows retailers to have strong late season offerings in three unique colors. Sun World uses traditional hybridization techniques to produce these new varieties by hand. After pollination has occurred and the grape berries are large enough, the grape clusters can be harvested and seed traces removed. With the help of Sun World's Variety Development Center, the grape can be nurtured into new growth called hybrid seedlings. Because of their fragile nature, they are further cultivated in test tubes, under grow lights until they are strong enough to be transplanted into a greenhouse. Here, the seedlings are acclimated to the direct sun light and temperamental conditions. In the Spring, these seedlings are moved into the fields and will continue their growth over the next four years. The entire process takes approximately ten years, from the first crosses made during pollination to the first commercial harvesting of the new varieties. With pre-trial tasting panels during the fruiting season, Sun World receives feedback on the grapes from consumers, customers and marketers. Sun World's goal is to provide a great eating experience for the consumer, and they work as diligently toward this goal, as they do in cultivating the industry.