(Jan. 21, 5:40 p.m.) Two of the nation’s leading breeders of new fruit varieties are joining forces.

Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, Calif., and Ithaca, N.Y.-based Cornell University have entered into a long-term table grape research agreement.

The collaborative efforts combine the strengths of the two research programs as they work to develop new table grape varieties to be licensed and grown across the globe, said David Marguleas, chief marketing officer for Sun World, in a news release.

Sun World and Cornell plan to exchange plant material, cuttings and pollen, according to the release.

The agreement is new, but breeding arms of Sun World and Cornell are not strangers.

“This agreement follows nearly a decade of research cooperation and is likely to bring the global fruit industry many new types of grapes,” said Bruce Reisch, professor of grape genetics at Cornell, in the news release.

Sun World’s Bakersfield-based Variety Development Center has released more than 55 grape, peach, plum, nectarine and apricot varieties since it was formed 30 years ago, the release said. Cornell has been breeding grapes for more than a century. Its research includes breeding new cold- and disease-resistant varieties for grower-shippers in upstate New York and other cold climate regions.

Sun World and Cornell do not use genetic engineering techniques, the release said. They employ conventional plant breeding methods.

Sun World grows its own proprietary varieties of table grapes and stone fruit on company acreage in California and some foreign countries. The varieties are licensed to grower-shippers on five continents, the release said.

Sun World and Cornell merge grape programs
Dr. Michael Striem (left), grape breeder for Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, Calif., with Bruce Reisch, grape genetics professor for Ithaca, N.Y.-based Cornell University. Sun World and Cornell have entered into a long-term table grape research agreement.