What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
March 06, 2013 12:48AM
We are preparing(plowing/cover crop) this year a strip of land for 2 lines of table grapes, planting them in 2 years.
I'm going to do a soil test at the end of this season, after covercropping the land.
I would like to add to my Upick operation besides apples and berries, also grapes.
Can anyone suggest some disease resistant/good taste/if possible seedless/ripe by mid september varieties for my zone? 5B

Any info will be helpful.

Thank you.

Westwind Orchard
Zone 5b in New York

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2013 09:23PM by Paul Weir.
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
March 06, 2013 03:21AM
Reliance is a real winner in my opinion. We are zone 3 so we have them in the greenhouse mostly since it is listed as a zone 5 plant. I began some outside recently, and have had plants in pots and relatively unprotected that have made it through winter. The vines are very productive here and ripen weeks before King of the North and other fall types. As an added bonus they are tasty when green turning to yellow, and almost a different grape when pinkish. I have sold them with good responses at both levels of maturity. Since they ripen earlier they may do a little better against drosophila than later varieties, but I wouldn't bet on it. They should do awesome in your zone. Customers buy alot more seedless like these compared to say, an Edelweiss. There is also good response for the concord types, seeds and all, but it really is a different sort of customer. Worden and Fredonia taste great but are mildew prone. King of the North and John Viola are clean here, but tarter. Edelwiess is a good performer, as is Kay Gray, (both golden with seeds) but the latter is more exacting regarding when to pick. LaCrescent is very good in flavor, but low productivity here so far. I am not sure where you are in NY, but you should approach the growers in the finger lakes , which is a grape growing mecca. (I grew up in that area)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/12/2013 09:23PM by Paul Weir.
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
February 17, 2016 03:12AM
Wanted to add my experience with Reliance here - Fabio did we have a brief discussion on seedless grapes this past summer on Instagram? I think you didn't end up planting Reliance, no?

Reliance grapes are quite possibly my favorite of ALL fruits for flavor, and I'm an apple girl, so that's saying something for a grape to beat out, say, Ashmead's Kernel, for me. Our customers also adore them. HOWEVER, their purported "reliability" in zone 5 has not proved to be true at our site. Since planting them in the late 80s, we've had to retrain them up very frequently due to die-back from cold damage. Trunks and all. They also have a hard time handling mildews and anthracnose. Wasps love them and have a very easy time slicing open their thin skin.

Suffice to say that if they weren't so amazingly delicious, we would have ripped them all out years ago. Glad you've been having luck in the greenhouse, Todd. Having a greenhouse is a dream of mine and as soon as I build one I will stick some Reliance vines in there.

For a commercial operation that needs a reliable crop of PYO seedless grapes in Zone 5 (we are 5a), I'd recommend Mars. They've done the best (with cold, disease resistance) out of the handful we've tried. They ripen a bit later than Reliance, but should still fit into your apple season well. Looking forward to hearing your experiences with the varieties you chose.

The UW has a seedless planting at their West Madison Research Station (also zone 5a) - they had good luck with Reliance until the winter of 2013/2014. I believe they lost all or most of their vines. Same for Canadice, Vanessa, Venus, Jupiter, and Thomcord there that year (according to info I have written down from a 2015 seminar). There is now more extensive research/breeding being done on cold-hardy table grapes at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Hopefully they will come up with something wonderful.

Meanwhile...I put in 6 Saint Theresa vines this past spring. Hoping that they turn out to be our new favorite!

Door Creek Orchard
Zone 5a in Wisconsin
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
February 17, 2016 10:16PM
Liz, I am glad you caused me to look at this thread again with the new post. I still have Reliance in the greenhouse...but. The but is that when the plastic was removed (it tore in a storm actually), the Reliance went through a real winter. These big and mature vines died back to a few buds at the base that we protected by poor housekeeping (detritus). The concord seedless were completely unaffected in that greenhouse. Also, a good number of potted reliance outdoors, even protected, died completely outdoors in the past few years. It stands to reason a lot of growers report success when there is good snow cover, only to be undermined in years of moderate cold with no protection. Such I think was the case here. We still have some alive, but not enough to warrant planting in our zone 3. Reliance is a wonderfully flavored fruit, sigh.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
May 03, 2022 06:40PM
Anyone have any new information or updates for this thread. It is a topic I am interested in.

We have had more extreme fall and spring freezes recently and I even had 30 year old Concords die or die back to ground line year before last. I manage to get some table grapes most years on regrowing canes of Vanessa, Interlaken and Reliance but nowhere near the amounts that I used to harvest.

Looking to interplant some newer varieties in my small "vineyard".

Pommes de Terre Acres
USDA Zone 5 - Dixon, Montana
Intermountain West Region
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
January 11, 2023 05:07PM
I have planted Reliance grapes two years and both times the plants died during the second year. Both times, the vines were growing good on the top wire of a 4 cane Kaffin system. Neither winter was very cold, just a degree or two below 0 F.
I have replanted with Somerset seedless grapes. They taste very good thou a little small. At least, they lived through their second winter (-5 F) and look good as of now (Jan 11).
Our seedless Concords were planted in 2018 and are bearing beautiful grapes. I have 5 gallons of Concord wine brewing from the 6 gallons of crushed grapes last summer. My parents always grew Concord seeded grapes as have I all of my life (I'm 79) and I have never seen a dead Concord grape plant.
I also have a Neptune seedless growing on the top wire. I can not tell if it has made it thru the winter or not; looks good so far.

Charlie DeVier
Zone 6A
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
January 11, 2023 06:16PM
Charles, I believe part of the Reliance mortality is an issue of overall conditions, and possibly for some growers, management. I say this because our Reliance plantings had made it through years in the teens below zero at least, with a good foot of snow cover mind you. They did succumb in temps below that mentioned above. Note some grape death will be a result of root demise, not always the aerial cold sensitivity. Since most labrusca varieties are grown on their own roots, this factor needs to be teased out (and in a different post). I can attest to the fact that Somerset Seedless and Concord Seedless are certainly more cold hardy than most others, Reliance included. They are all listed zone 5. I tell customers/clients in our climate, however, that planting any seedless grapes is a gamble. For those on those borders of habitable zones, using the vine fall laydown method and utilizing microclimate areas is a good idea, regardless of hassle. This is also the place to touch on management, not just for grapes but any perennial woody species. Stress on the plant, and particularly the specimen putting on growth and spending resources in fall can lead to uncharacteristic cold damage. Thin those bunches, keep fertilizer to the spring regime and avoid any stimulating pruning as the summer winds down.
Re: What are the best varieties for zone 5b?
January 15, 2023 03:45AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Charles and Todd.

The mortality of my seeded Concords (3 of 10 vines) was indeed likely to have been the result of subzero temps on heavily bearing vines that had not yet gone into dormancy and were not yet completely ripe. Not much you can do when you get a warm fall that ends so abruptly with those kinds of temperature swings. The surviving vines have recovered and produced a decent crop this year.

I have a new Concord seedless that is showing some promise and seems to ripen earlier than the seeded vines. My other seedless grapes (Reliance, Interlaken and Vanessa) also ripen earlier and I may be able to minimize freeze damage by doing more of the management Todd mentions. I may also try the Somerset variety.

I'll post to this thread again if I come up with anything interesting.

Pommes de Terre Acres
USDA Zone 5 - Dixon, Montana
Intermountain West Region
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