Cultivar held up well during last week's scorching wind and temperatures of up to 48°C

Stargrow presents alternative to Flame in its FireStar™ cultivar

Growers looking for an alternative to Flame, with which there is widespread dissatisfaction, attended Stargrow’s field day outside Clanwilliam, Western Cape, on 13 December to see how its new variety FireStar™ is performing.

FireStar™, previously known as Stargrape 2, provides solutions to some of Flame’s problems, specifically its tendency to crack after rain (and despite the drought, sporadic summer thunder storms are still a possibility around here). FireStar™ also colours easier than Flame, requiring less Ethephon. In fact, at Stargrow’s Graafwater trial blocks, the grapes aren’t sprayed for colour at all and yet colour up fully. 

On Arcadia farm, part of the Grape Alliance group, Frikkie de Wet planted 4ha of FireStar™ three years ago as their season opener, slightly ahead of Flame. He is quite convinced of FireStar™’s place on his farm as a replacement for Flame. He says that the mistake they made during their first two years, was to spray too much Gibb, which resulted in rockhard berries. It is an unfussy and tenacious grape, requiring fewer chemical inputs than, say, Flame.

This block of FireStar™ had a veritable trial by fire last week when temperatures of 48°C coupled with scorching winds bore down on the vineyards around Clanwilliam, Trawal and further northwest.

Many growers at the StarGrow field day lamented the heat damage– some mentioning losses of up to 90% on their Red Globe after a couple of hours at those temperatures – but FireStar™ (as well as StarGrape 1, of which there is a 4ha block on Arcadia too) emerged admirably.

Further recommendations in FireStar™’s favour are its berry shape – tending towards ovoid, reflecting a general consumer preference – and berry size. Last year Arcadia farm easily achieved 21mm, says Frikkie de Wet, but under this year’s conditions it’s more difficult.

Chile’s going for FireStar™
There are further FireStar™ plantings at Grape Alliance's Aussenkehr farm, some at De Doorns and a bit in the Northern Region. Last year’s first commercial harvest from this FireStar™ block outside Clanwilliam found enthusiastic reception with Tesco. Abroad, Chile has been at the forefront of planting this South African cultivar with more than 100,000 vines planted since the variety was released two years ago. “We had a Stargrow™ field day in Chile earlier this year, attended by 80 growers, which resulted in eliciting a lot of orders for the vines,” says Nikko Maree of Stargrow.

There is commercial interest from Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco; in Australia and the USA the cultivar has just been released from quarantine. In Europe trial results are very promising. “FireStar™ is starting to make an impact internationally,” says Nikko Maree.

Stargrow's Nikko Maree amid the FireStar vines

For more information:
Nikko Maree
Tel: +27 21 880 1882

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