Veteran southern San Joaquin Valley table grape growers Ross and Ryan Spitzer have introduced a new table grape variety, Moonlight Seedless.

The Spitzers produce table grapes from 300 acres in the Arvin/Bakersfield area and in McFarland. They farm as H. Spitzer and Sons, Inc. Besides table grapes, they produce citrus, walnuts and carrots and have been farming since 1978.

Moonlight Seedless came from a block of Maroo Seedless grapes.

“One of our grape pickers found the vine in 1990 among the Maroos. It produced a grape quite different from the Maroo and she brought it to our attention,” said Ross Spitzer.

It is a large, black/purple seed grape that Ross said has very good eating quality.

The brothers took cuttings off the vine; propagated them and grew out 32 vines. They were grafted to Crimson Seedless roots, “the strongest rooted vines we have.”

Moonlight Seedless does not have seed traces.

Eventually, the Spitzers developed a 32-acre vineyard of their new variety. Last year 25,000 boxes were shipped from the new vineyard, mostly into the overseas market. SC Fresh markets the Spitzers’ table grapes.

It is cane pruned. “We tried spur pruning, but that did not work.”

The variety yielded 800 boxes per acre last season from the young vineyards. Ross expects mature vines to produce 1,000 boxes per acre. Another 30 acres have been planted along with the original 32. They are on double T crossarms of 52 and 36 inches.

Harvest timing is before Autumn Royals and after Summer Royals. Moonlight Seedless is a patented label.

“We’ve never done anything this before. It takes a long time, but it was an enjoyable process to go through,” said Ross. The Spitzers also farm Crimsons, Flame Seedless, Thompson Seedless and Princess Seedless table grapes.

email: hcline@farmpress.com