Grapes of Wrath: Wet Summer Impacting Fruit Development, Quality

Clint Thompson Alabama, Georgia, Grapes, Top Posts, Weather

A tour of the research vineyard at the Clanton Research and Extension Center in Chilton County at the Alabama WIneries and Grape Growers Association meeting in September 2019.

By Clint Thompson

Like other crops produced in Georgia and Alabama, grapes are not immune to the impact of the excessive rains being experienced across the Southeast this summer. They are impacting production, says Phil Brannen, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Fruit Disease Specialist.

“It’s wet. We’ve definitely had plenty of rain, very little drying time. It seems like it rains almost every day,” Brannen said. “Disease wise, we’re having some issues. They’re spraying when they can. We are seeing some downy mildew coming on probably because it’s so wet. Trying to get back with sprays and trying to keep fungicides on target for downy mildew and powdery mildew has been difficult. We’re seeing some rots and things develop.

“It’s going to be a challenging year for sure. Commercially, I don’t think anything is just terrible. I don’t think things have gotten out of control.”

Critical Period

But Brannen insists that this is a critical time for grapes. They need to dry out. The lack of sunshine will impact ripening in the grapes and fruit quality. Brannen said farmers will get a better vintage of wine when there are dry conditions.

“That is critical to their maturation and development. That’s been an issue, but it’s a difficult issue for us a lot of years growing grapes in Georgia. We’re not California. We don’t have those long periods of time where you don’t have clouds in the sky and you’re growing grapes in the desert. It’s just the thing we have to put up with,” Brannen said.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get some drying conditions in this month. This is really the final push, now until about mid-September, and in some cases, a little bit later where you’re going to be harvesting your grapes. We’re coming into that timeframe, so it would be really good if we could have some drying conditions in north Georgia where a lot of the grapes are, anywhere we’re growing grapes really.”