The Australian climate sees table grapes in peak production between November and May, but new research from the CSIRO hopes that could move to year-round production in the future. Some twenty years ago, scientists discovered a dwarfing gene in an old French champagne variety called ‘Pinot Meunier’.
Now, the CSIRO is using that gene to develop new grape varieties to grow in Australian conditions all year round. The new varieties are small enough to be grown in pots, but still need summer like conditions to keep fruiting. The new dwarf varieties are small enough to be grown in a pot, but they will yield the best results for commercial growers in a hydroponic setup.
"Unless you're living in the tropics, it will still go through a dormancy period as a normal grapevine would do," the CSIRO's Dr Ian Dry told abc.net.au. "In a greenhouse and also we've trialled them indoors with LED lights, so we can actually grow them in the same way that people have probably seen tomatoes growing as one long stem."
The dwarfing gene sees the microvine skip its juvenile stage and fruit much earlier than many current grape varieties, and for longer.