Clark at Arkansas said he hasn't tested Von yet, but thinks it holds promise for stretching out the production season. “I understand it is a later-producing variety, more on the schedule of Navaho than other varieties,” he said. “It will be good to have another variety in that category.”

Von is very new on the market. It was formally introduced at the American Society for Horticultural Sciences annual conference in Miami, Fla., in August.

North American Plants, Nourse and Norcal are presently licensed to propagate Von, said Fernandez, and plants should be available for the coming planting season.

• It is not brand news but the raspberry variety Nantahala released in 2009 by North Carolina State University, is making its way intocommercial production.

Fernandez said Nantahala,which features late ripening, a highly attractive red color and superior flavor, has performed well on farms in the higher elevation areas of North Carolina.

“The late harvest of Nantahala enables growers in that region to harvest high-quality fruit later into the fall than in the past,” she said.

The flavor is very good, she added, and she expects that besides use by farmers, it will be popular with home gardeners. “Anyone who tastes Nantahala wants to come back to it,” she said.

The University of Arkansas has released four new seedless table grape varieties suited for local markets. The names are Faith, Hope, Joy and Gratitude.

They are expected to perform well for table grape growers for local markets in Arkansas and most of the southern states, he said.

All four have non-slipskin flesh with good skin quality, fruit cracking resistance and good vine health and winter hardiness.

There is considerable variation among the four new grapes, Clark notes. Two are blues and two whites; two are fruity-flavored grapes and two neutral-flavored; and there is a wide range of harvest dates.

• Faith, the earliest of the four, is blue-fruited, slight fruity to neutral in flavor, semi-crisp, and ripens in late July to early August.

• Hope is green-fruited, has a fruity flavor, is rather soft in texture, has high production potential, and ripens near August 19.

• Joy is blue-fruited with exceptional fruity flavor but very soft texture. It ripens the first or second week of August.

• Gratitudeberries are green with exceptional flesh crispness and neutral flavor. It usually ripens in late August.

The names of the new releases contrast rather strongly with the program’s previous naming strategy for grapes. Formerly, most grapes from the Arkansas breeding program were named for planets, such as Jupiter, Mars, and Neptune.

But it was decided a different direction was needed, and the fact that plant breeding is both a science and an art suggested a way to go, Clark said.

“Faith, hope, joy and gratitude are all key elements in the philosophy of plant breeding, just as they are in life. It requires inspiration.”

And besides, he added, “We used up all the good planet names.”

chrisbickers@gmail.com