Stargrow Cultivar Development has announced plans to brand its Stargrape 2 variety as Firestar following impressive results during the commercial testing stage.
According to the group, Firestar offers exciting opportunities for table grape growers in the early season, with commercial plantings already taking place in South Africa, South America, the US, Italy and Spain.
In Spain the variety has repeated the good results during the past season in the testing blocks planted in different locations, while in the US the variety is propagated for commercial plantings in the coming season.
“There are indications that the grape will offer a significant alternative to Flame Seedless which is presently dominating this period. I guess one can say that by launching this variety, the ‘Flame’ has become a ‘Fire’," said Stargrow Cultivar Development’s Waldo Maree.
“Growers in South Africa and elsewhere are increasingly looking at new early red cultivars that could improve the varieties offered in the early season,” he noted. “FireStar has shown that it meets all the requirements for an extremely successful early season red seedless and the branding of the Stargrape range is therefore one of our leading new cultivar initiatives.”
Stargrow Development is one of the leading South African and international cultivar development companies and in recent years have achieved great success across a range of product categories.
Firestar made its debut this year amongst consumers in the leading British supermarket group, Tesco. “The sales went extremely well,” says Karen Cleave, Grape Technical Manager at Richard Hochfeld Ltd, category manager for Tesco, based in Kent in the UK. ‘We look forward to receiving bigger volumes next year which will allow us to introduce the variety to a much bigger audience.”
“The characteristics of the variety is that it colours naturally, produces high yields and is not as susceptible to damage during rain,” says Waldo Maree. “For grape growers the world over these are very important characteristics which will favour decisions to plant the variety.”
While there is still a lot of work to be done to establish Firestar, international growers have increasingly showed interest in the variety.
Chilean growers have already embraced the variety and have made significant plantings. Elsewhere in North America, Italy and Spain, growers are following suit.
“The ability of Firestar to reach full colour under natural conditions is a very important characteristic,” Maree added. “It is less prone to cracking due to rainfall. Cracking is a common problem with early varieties, and can result in growers losing their entire crops due to unseasonal rains.
“Firestar is also a very productive variety, with around 5,000-6,000 4kg cartons having been harvested in the third year after being planted.”