By Karla Arboleda
On July 16, growers visited the University of Florida’s (UF) Plant Science Research and Education Unit to hear about the future of the muscadine grape industry in Florida.
About 130 attendees listened to presentations on cultural practices, potential health benefits and production methods for muscadine grapes. The native Florida crop has been gaining more popularity among growers who have wine in mind.
Ali Sarkhosh, assistant professor and Extension specialist in the Horticultural Sciences Department at UF, organized the event and discussed how the grape industry continues to grow in Florida.
“We have the capacity to improve our production and wine quality, then also focus on the muscadines for fresh markets,” Sarkhosh said. “I think the industry will be very sustainable in the future; from small-sized wineries to big-sized (wineries).”
In Florida, participation in agritourism has increased as growers consider adding aspects of it to their businesses. Sarkhosh says muscadine grapes can see more success in agritourism with additional promotion.
“Muscadine is something that is just recognized in (the) southeast of the United States,” Sarkhosh said. “We need to work a lot on the marketing side because many people don’t know what muscadine is.”
In the future, Sarkhosh plans to host another muscadine grape field day for those who are interested in learning more and could potentially join the industry.
“We have a good-sized industry and a lot of growers,” Sarkhosh said. “These growers need to be provided with some information such as disease management, insect management and soil health training.”
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