Missouri Grape Crop Thrives in Warmer Temperatures
ROCHEPORT - With mild winter temperatures and spring well underway, the Missouri grape growers said Monday their crop is in better shape this year than last.
Last year, 25 to 50 percent of buds that would eventually produce grapes died on the vine. ICCVE Assistant Viticulturist Jackie Harris said bud damage is incomparable to last year. "We did a bud assessment like we usually do and the average was only like ten percent damage really on the primary buds so it's really not significant at all," said Harris. So far this year, only five to 15 percent have died.
More buds surviving means more wine and wine products. The low mortality rate also saves wineries money and keeps them from outsourcing, or buying grapes from other growers. Les Bourgeois Vineyard foreman Jacob Albin said vineyards were lucky this year with the mild winter, especially in comparison to last year. He said this year's winter temperatures are key to having a larger and more successful harvest. "This year with the moisture and everything that we've got, the ground didn't freeze near as bad this year so everything started earlier. I think we're going to have a pretty good harvest this year," said Albin.
The early spring also caused fruit development to happen sooner than expected. The first stages usually occur in mid to late April. This year, however, green tissue was seen about two to three weeks ago. As long as there is not a late freeze, wineries anticipate a larger crop and harvest.