A pair of researchers with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has earned the institution an award with their work developing the first-ever South African-bred raisin cultivar to be commercially registered.
Through the efforts of Phyllis Burger and Andries Daniels the research body has managed to bag an award for research and technology at this year’s deciduous fruit industry awards ceremony.
The ARC expressed its pride in the achievements of Burger and Daniels in a recent media release.
The pair were recognised at the virtual 45th South African deciduous fruit industry awards ceremony for their work on “Sundowner” the first ever South African-bred raisin cultivar to be commercially registered with the registrar of plants of South Africa, as well as their contributions to the South African raisin grape industry.
Over the past three decades, the deciduous fruit industry and the ARC have partnered in a breeding and evaluation research initiative, which invested in a project to develop new raisin grape cultivars in South Africa under local climate conditions.
According to the ARC the South African raisin grape industry was dependent for years mainly on Sultana, a single cultivar that had several shortcomings.
The development of new cultivars is a time-consuming process starting with the performing of hand pollinations, rescuing the embryos from seedless grapes and growing these embryos into viable plants in tissue culture.
The latest grape cultivar, duly named Sundowner for its resemblance to the sunset, came out of this. Sundowner was launched earlier this year by the ARC, RaisinsSA, and Culdevco Pty Ltd, at a cultivar information day near Upington.
This cultivar was selected in 2002 and promoted to semi-commercialisation in 2006. Plant breeders’ rights were applied for in 2017 and awarded in 2019, a long way from November 1994 when the crosses were made for the first time.