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Cornell Signs Grape Agreement with Sun World International

By Marissa Fessenden '09

Cornell has formed a long-term tablegrape research collaboration with Sun World International LLC.

Cornell and Sun World operate two of the world's leading fresh grape breeding programs. The venture aims to combine research strengths to develop improved varieties for grape growers in the United States and abroad.

Sun World's Michael Striem, left, and
CALS' Bruce Reisch
Joe Ogrodnick, NYSAES

Sun World's Michael Striem, left, and CALS' Bruce Reisch

"This agreement, a unique public-private collaboration, follows nearly a decade of research cooperation between Cornell and Sun World and is likely to bring the global fruit industry many new types of grapes," says Bruce Reisch '76, a grape geneticist at Cornell's Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Reisch will work with Sun World grape breeder Michael Striem to combine desirable fruit traits and characteristics from their programs.

Cornell's expertise, cultivated over more than a century, is in breeding flavorful, diseaseresistant, cold-hardy grapes for the cool climate of upstate New York and similar regions. Sun World's genetic stock has been developed over 25 years to produce large, seedless, sweet, crunchy, attractive grapes in the Mediterranean climate of southern California that ship and store well.

Scientists at both institutions will exchange such plant materials as pollen and cuttings and will regularly visit each other's research sites. The collaboration provides both breeding programs, which use conventional plant breeding methods, direct access to a vast collection of grape cultivars and selections. Their genetic resources will be pooled as a common source of such desirable traits as berry size, early or late ripening, flavor, color, and diseaseand environmental-stress resistance.

Cornell is represented in the collaboration through the Cornell Center for Technology Enterprise and Commercialization, which is responsible for the management of the university's technology. Sun World, a California-based grower and marketer of a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables, will manage the U.S. and international introduction of all new varieties produced from the combined research effort.