CSIRO, Australia’s leading science agency, is found to be looking for farmers interested in growing a dwarf breed of grape vines that can bear fruit all year round. When the CSIRO discovered a naturally-occurring dwarfing gene in a very old wine grape variety, the CSIRO cross bred it in to table grapes to create the microvines.
An unexpected by-product of the dwarfing gene is it allows the vine to continuously fruit, if provided the right conditions. Initially the discovery was used as a research tool, allowing scientists to breed different varieties with special traits in a shorter amount of time. However, CSIRO business development manager Susan Hani said they were now considering its commercial application.
Dr Hani said there was a opportunity to supply fresh grapes all year round, both domestically and internationally, and the CSIRO was looking for businesses to partner with. She added said the vine's small stature and continuous fruiting made them ideal to greenhouse operations and could be trained to grow vertical or laterally, similar to tomatoes.
When microvines are grown in a greenhouse, the control conditions allow the plants to the continuous flowering and fruiting all year round.
"The grapes are slightly smaller than the really big ones you see in the shops, but you wouldn't necessarily think they are an abnormally small grape," Dr Hani said.
According to farmweekly.com.au¸ CSIRO is even considering introducing the microvines to nurseries to be sold as household plants.