A century of muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia Michx) breeding at the University of Georgia
Conner, Patrick J.
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Muscadine grapes have been cultivated commercially in the southeastern United States since the middle of the 18th century. Production trends have waxed and waned, but there is a renewed interest in this grape because of recent studies indicating their high nutraceutical content. Early cultivars were simply selections from the wild, but current cultivars were all developed from breeding programs. The University of Georgia (UGA) operates the oldest and largest breeding program dedicated to the improvement of the muscadine grape. The UGA program began in 1909 and over the years has released over 30 cultivars. One of those cultivars, the bronze skinned ‘Fry’, is the leading cultivar for fresh market use and is widely grown. More recent releases such as ‘Summit’ and ‘Tara’ are gaining in popularity. Current goals of the breeding program include the development of new cultivars which combine large berry size with perfect flowers, earlier and later maturing cultivars, berries with dry stem scars and edible skins, and increased cold hardiness. Recently work has begun in using several Euvitis Planch. × Muscadinia Planch. hybrids in order to introduce disease resistance and quality traits into V. rotundifolia Michx.