Plant Genetics was established in 2008 to evaluate new grape cultivars bred by the Volcani Agricultural Research Organisation in Israel. It was founded by Aat Hoekstra (Paarl), JD Kirsten (Paarl), the Du Plessis brothers (Augrabies) and Pieter Naude (Hex Valley). There are evaluation sites in Augrabies, Hex and on Windmeul Farm in Paarl.
The new cultivar selection and evaluation is done by Jan Siebrits. Jan has 25 years experience in table grape production in Paarl and he is exceptionally passionate about the selection and breeding process.
We currently have 120 cultivars under evaluation with several new selections that will be imported this season (2017/2018) after the annual visit to Volcani in July 2017. These cultivars are tested under different protocols and over several seasons. Grapes are evaluated continuously throughout the growing season. Post harvest, grapes are stored for 25 to 36 days and evaluated thoroughly to determine storage and shelf life.
The most important characteristics that are evaluated are: Risk (environmental factors), labour requirement, market preferences, fertility and eating quality. Our goal is to identify white, red and black seedless varieties with great production throughout the season.
In the 2016/2017 season we identified 8 cultivars which we are excited about and will be evaluated over the coming season with great expectation: