The grape season we are accustomed to begins in early May and continue throughout the summer. In warm regions where ripening is earlier, including the Jordan River Valley and the Arava, it begins in early spring (late March – early April).
A rising demand for the fruit in winter months too, when prices are extremely high, between NIS 20 to NIS 30 per kilogram, has led the Ramat Hanegev R&D to develop an agro-technology that enables raising grapes at affordable prices in mid-winter.
For several years now, the Ramat Hanegev R&D has been working on agro-techniques and technologies that “force” the vines to yield fruit in winter months. The cool autumn in the Ramat Hanegev region provides an advantage by cooling the vines and enabling a particularly early harvest.
The researchers conducted experiments in early harvesting times, September-October, on the “early-sweet” variety. After the harvest the vines were treated with Alzodef (a substance that accelerates plant awakening), they were then covered with plastic tunnels in October to create warm conditions.
This warmth in cold winter months caused the grapes to ripen and produce fresh, sweet fruit in winter, as early as mid-January and, now too, in late February.
The results obtained so far have produced good quality juicy fruit. In view of the experiment’s success, the Ramat Hanegev R&D is undertaking a more extensive experiment in large greenhouses in order to supply fresh sweet grapes in the midst of the cold winter.
We hope that the study held at Ramat Hanegev R&D will soon enable the public to buy fresh bunches of grapes at an affordable price even in mid-winter.