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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Midwestern Drought--Good for the Wine Grapes?

The 2012 drought in the central part the country has caused major concerns mostly for crops grown in the Midwest--corn, soybeans, etc. Crops sizes are way down and prices up.

One crop that may do really well is the wine grapes. Missouri sits right in the middle of the area hit hardest by the drought. To a lesser extent Michigan and Ohio wine growing will be affected. So why is the drought good? Wine grapes don't generally depend on growing season moisture. Rain can actually be bad once the clusters have formed as rot can set in. Rain water gets drawn up into the grapes and they increase in size, but not in flavor.

The West Coast's weather, where the vast majority of wine grapes are grown, is essentially in drought conditions every year as there's little or no rain from May through October.

The crop size in the Midwest will probably be smaller as the grape size will be smaller because of less moisture. This means more intense fruit flavors. It sounds like potentially one of the best years ever. That's a generalization as every vineyard and variety of grape will react a bit differently. Some vines that are used to summer rains may be stressed and may not recover fully next year.

Pay attention to the other fruit crops and you'll get an idea of how the grapes may do this year and next. The concern is deciding if this is a one year phenomenon or a longer-term climate change issue. If it's related to climate change then the growers will have to adjust.