AMES, Iowa – Interest in and production of grapes has significantly increased across the upper Midwest and other cold climate regions. Because of this increasing interest, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has reproduced and updated its popular publication on grape cultivars.
The publication, "A Review of Cold Climate Grape Cultivars" (HORT 3040), is available through the Extension Store. The review was done by Diana Cochran, assistant professor and extension fruit specialist at Iowa State University. The publication was initially written by Lisa Smiley, a graduate student in horticulture at Iowa State.
One of the problems producers face is choosing cultivars that will withstand severe winters and mature in short growing seasons while also being productive.
“The grape cultivars in this book are valuable because they have been bred specifically for the climate found in the northeast and Midwest,” Cochran said. “Producers looking for the right type of grape to plant and students studying viticulture will find this information extremely helpful.”
Highlighting cultivars that can productively grow in cold climates is important because of the limitations of a shorter growing season. The cultivar must be able to withstand the lowest temperatures expected in the area. It is also preferred that cultivars used have a later bud break to avoid any effects of a late spring frost.
“These cold climate cultivars are why we have a grape industry in Iowa,” Cochran said. “We simply can’t grow the same kind of grapes grown in other places like California or Washington because of our climate. These cultivars are specifically bred to withstand our cold winters and humid summers.”
The publication features 73 different grape cultivars that can be grown in the Midwest and other cold climates. Each entry provides detailed information about the cultivar including pedigree, origin, introduction, type, color, berry, cluster and viticultural characteristics. Diseases and pests the cultivar is susceptible to, quality of wine from the grape, growing season, hardiness and use are also included for each cultivar.
“The specific information provided for each grape is vital to students, homeowners, commercial growers and researchers so they can look up information on a grape’s cold hardiness zone, wine use and style of wine produced,” Cochran said. “This publication provides information on each grape’s cultural aspects as well as a wide base of knowledge about each grape’s wine style.”