Today I was enjoying my monthly read of Good Fruit Grower, and noticed the article by Melissa Hansen "Making Sense of Global Warming" (January 1, 2008) in which the issue of warmer temperatures contributing to color concerns in red grape genotypes was mentioned. The discussion indicated Sunbelt as a possible option for Washington juice-grape growers due to its higher heat tolerance than Concord.
The article also indicated this variety originated in California. However, "Sunbelt" is a Razorback, having originated at the University of Arkansas. This improved juice grape was released in 1996 and was developed by Drs. James N. Moore, Justin R. Morris, and John R. Clark. Dr. Moore selected this grape for its uniform coloring in high heat (in the 90s Fahrenheit) compared to Concord, which often had uneven coloring within a cluster in west-central Arkansas.
Dr. Morris conducted extensive research with this genotype prior to release, and found it to have excellent quality for processing. It would be very exciting for Sunbelt to find a home in Washington with juice growers. Sunbelt has been tested in California, but let’s make sure everyone knows its correct origin!
John R. Clark Ph.D., Professor
University of Arkansas