By Dr. Larry Stein, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Texas A & M AgriLife Extension Service in cooperation with the University of Arkansas have released a new table grape, Southern Sensation Seedless. This grape is especially adapted to the south because over a 34-year period it has defied the most limiting factor to grape production, Pierce’s Disease, under very intense PD pressure. This grape has been productive whereas other table grapes in trial with it, Flame seedless, Blush seedless, Beauty seedless have died. To date it is one of the few “true” table grapes with PD tolerance.
Southern Sensation seedless has attractive clusters and very good fruit quality. Clusters are large, averaging a half pound up to a pound and a half. Clusters are well filled to tightly filled with no cracking observed in Texas. In trials, Southern Sensation Seedless berries are medium to large (1/2 to ¾ inch in length) with minimal to no seed remnants and a pleasant to mild non-offensive flavor similar to Thompson seedless. The overall fruit quality of Southern Sensation Seedless is ranked high and researchers were able to successfully hang and harvest fruit over about a month-long period. The grapes and vine appear to have good disease tolerance, but in overly wet years, fungicides will be in order.
Southern Sensation seedless has good vigor on its own roots. Vines have a semi-erect growth habit and may be successfully trained upright or downward.
Southern Sensation seedless is recommended as a fresh fruit cultivar for on-farm and local market sales in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 7b or warmer. It will be patented, and plants are available from Double A Vineyards in New York, with a limited supply available this spring at local nurseries. Plants are typically shipped as bare root plants, so if you purchase a container plant, make sure it is well rooted into the container before transplanting in the garden.