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  • Author or Editor: Markus Keller x
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The juice grape (Vitis labruscana) cultivar Sunbelt has been reported to ripen more uniformly than the cultivar Concord in warm climates; thus, ‘Sunbelt’ might be useful as either a blending partner with or replacement for ‘Concord’ as global climate change intensifies. We conducted a 4-year field trial to evaluate ‘Sunbelt’ alongside ‘Concord’ in arid southeastern Washington. ‘Concord’ yields were on the average 57% higher than ‘Sunbelt’ yields because ‘Concord’ vines produced more shoots of higher fruitfulness and consequently had more clusters. The 31% larger berries of ‘Sunbelt’ were insufficient to compensate for its lower cluster number. Conversion from hand pruning to minimal (machine) pruning had no consistent influence on yield in either cultivar. Juice soluble solids, titratable acidity (TA), red color intensity, and color hue were significantly higher in ‘Sunbelt’ than ‘Concord’, whereas pH and potassium were often similar. Both cultivars cold acclimated in autumn and deacclimated in spring, but hardiness varied during winter depending on prevailing temperatures. With some exceptions, the two cultivars had similar bud, phloem, and xylem hardiness. When differences were significant, ‘Sunbelt’ was 1 to 4 °C less hardy than ‘Concord’ and also tended to deacclimate more readily in spring. The results from this study indicate that ‘Sunbelt’ shows promise as a blending partner with or an alternative to ‘Concord’ for warm vineyard sites or growing seasons even in regions with cold winters.

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The accurate prediction of winter injury caused by low-temperature events is a key component of the effective cultivation of woody and herbaceous perennial plants. A common method employed to visualize geographic patterns in the severity of low-temperature events is to map a climatological variable that closely correlates with plant survival. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM) is constructed for that purpose. We present a short history of PHZM development, culminating in the recent production of a new, high-resolution version of the PHZM, and discuss how such maps relate to winterhardiness per se and to other climatic factors that affect hardiness. The new PHZM is based on extreme minimum-temperature data logged annually from 1976 to 2005 at 7983 weather stations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and adjacent regions in Canada and Mexico. The PHZM is accessible via an interactive website, which facilitates a wide range of horticultural applications. For example, we highlight how the PHZM can be used as a tool for site evaluation for vineyards in the Pacific northwestern United States and as a data layer in conjunction with moisture-balance data to predict the survival of Yugoslavian woody plants in South Dakota. In addition, the new map includes a zip code finder, and we describe how it may be used by governmental agencies for risk management and development of recommended plant lists, by horticultural firms to schedule plant shipments, and by other commercial interests that market products seasonally.

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