GMO and hybrid and quite different. Hybrids are crosses between two pure-bred varieties - the result is often an exceptionally vigorous variety, the downside is that any propagation by seed won't produce plants similar to the parent. That shouldn't be a problem with grapes which you would typically propagate by cuttings.
Currently there are no approved GMO grapes out there, so no need to worry.
Eric Toensmeier had this wonderful idea: Take walks in the summer and look out for wild grapes that are large/sweet. Mark them with something, like a piece of colored tape or whatnot, and come back for a cutting when they're dormant. That way you have your own heirloom grapes that are perfectly bred for your climate!
"To oppose something is to maintain it" -- Ursula LeGuin
Isaac Hill wrote:Eric Toensmeier had this wonderful idea: Take walks in the summer and look out for wild grapes that are large/sweet. Mark them with something, like a piece of colored tape or whatnot, and come back for a cutting when they're dormant. That way you have your own heirloom grapes that are perfectly bred for your climate!
I live near Morraine State Park and this past fall harvested an excess branch or two from some of the grapes growing there. these were grapes that were planted on the old farms there before the area was made a state park. some vines have been growing on their own for at least 60 years and other younger vines propulgated by the birds and animals. all producing good fruit without pruning, spraying or fertilizer. the bike trail on the north shore is loaded with them. the park actually mows some of them back to keep them from overgrowing the trail, so a few prunings is not a problem. one branch can produce a number of cuttings to start.
I don't have the time to go into the whole hybrid/GMO question, but the short answer is, you are safe. Bad news, Lon Rombough recently passed away. Go to his website anyway, there is a lot of good info there. Just be aware that you can't order cuttings there, which is a shame. I got cuttings from him last year and was planning to order more. He also wrote a book on grape growing, and it is still available from the website, though you can buy it other places too. His son was going to try to fulfill the book orders, but I don't know about the status of that. Another good source of info is the North American Fruit Explorers. Many states also have fruit and nut growers associations that are wonderful sources of local info. In Indiana we have a wonderful group of people who are very knowledgeable and generous, and in March we have a scion swap where you can get many varieties that other memebers have donated. Many internet forums such as this are nice as far as they go, but to get the most reliable info, find someone local to you.
In my particular area wild grapes can be aggressive and troublesome... partially because of how they can behave in and around forests, and because they provide a bountiful food source for Japanese Beetles (which also devour my cultivated grapes, beans, and several varieties of fruiting trees).
I have removed several well established wild grapevines from my property in an effort to cut down on future beetle populations.
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