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Growers' Muscadine Prices Mixed

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It used to be a no-brainer. Commercial muscadine vineyards could get as much as 65 cents to 90 cents a pound for wholesale fresh-market grapes but only $180 to $200 a ton (9 cents to 10 cents a pound) for processing-market grapes.

Growing muscadine table grapes for the fresh market still has potential in some markets. But this past season, growers had a hard time moving some of our fresh-market grapes.

Some growers ended up selling some grapes for only $8 a box (40 cents a pound). And they've got about $5 a box in them, so there's not much room for profit.

At the same time, the market for processing-market grapes has improved. The price has doubled to around $400 a ton (20 cents a pound). An increase in the number of wineries in the Southeast is improving demand.

Grape Roller Coaster

However, growers should never plant muscadines without extensive market research. We've been on this roller coaster before, back in the 1970s. Prices for processed muscadines were good and then crashed.

A bright spot in the picture is the discovery of high levels of antioxidants in muscadines. Casimir Akoh's research at UGA has shown high levels of the antioxidant and anti-cancer compound ellagic acid in muscadines.

Hopefully, as the health benefits of muscadine grapes become common knowledge, the markets for both fresh and processed muscadines will increase.

(Gerard Krewer is a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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