New varieties bring new attributes to table grapes

June 10, 2015

By Kate Campbell

They look like grapes, but they taste like candy, strawberries, pineapple and many other interesting flavors—and today’s table grapes also come in new colors and unexpected shapes.

David Cain, head of plant breeding activities for Bakersfield-based International Fruit Genetics, said there’s a big shift going on right now in grape production, in California and around the world. Older, labor- and water-intensive grape varieties are being phased out, as farmers plant eye-catching, taste-tickling varieties with higher yields.

“Growers come to our company asking about new varieties,” Cain said, adding that a number are looking to replace older varieties, such as Thompson seedless and autumn royal. “They want to try something new.”

He said the company doesn’t create genetically engineered crops; instead, new varieties are created using advanced breeding techniques in traditional approaches. IFG was founded in 2001 by table grape grower Jack Pandol Jr. and the owners of Sunridge Nurseries, Glen and Terrie Stoller.

It used to be that new plant varieties were developed during years of study and experimentation, involving research activities at both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and universities. But these days, a lot of that painstaking work is being done by private plant breeders such as Cain and IFG.

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Ryan Seacrest Tries Cotton Candy Grapes

August 09, 2013

You've heard of hybrid cars and cross-breed dogs ... but what about fruit?

The latest craze to come ut of California is cotton candy-flavored grapes, which sounds both yummy and confusing.

On Friday's On Air with Ryan Seacrest, the team tried the new "invention" from "fruit breeders" and our reaction will probably surprise you.

"I don't know that they necessarily go together," says Ryan. Still, once he popped a grape, "They taste just like cotton candy. It's not right. It's ridiculous ... you should pass those around to everyone. It's like getting cotton candy, but also health! It's so good. Remember when I was talking badly about fruit breeders? ... They're amazing!"

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Cotton Candy® A Sweet Spin On Designer Fruit

August 06, 2013 - by Michaeleen Doucleff

Can't we just leave our fruit alone?

Last year, apple farmers were their fruit in grape flavor to make them more attractive to kids. Now, plant breeders in California have created a grape that tastes like — well, spun sugar and air.

That's right, Salties. Say hello to the Cotton Candy grape.

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Cotton Candy® In The News

May 13, 2013

Table grapes come in many varieties, red, green, seedless, and now cotton candy. It isn't something most people would associate with the flavor of a grape but International Fruit Genetics created a variety it says tastes just like spun sugar.

International Fruit Genetics General Manager David Cain said, "It tastes quite a bit like cotton candy."

It's been eight years in the making. Cain says by breeding wild grape species, they've developed the unique flavor.

"This is all natural and we don't do any genetic engineering or anything," said Cain.

It's not a simple process. They start by pollinating the vines by hand. Cain says there are anywhere from 300 to 1,000 flowers on each of the 2,000 clusters.

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