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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Muscadine Field Day a Success!

The Muscadine Field Day at Castle Hayne had a great turn out Wednesday! Even though advertising budgets are tight and the field day was only publicized electronically, about 70 growers, agents, NCDA & NCSU attendees heard talks from Jim Ballington, Barclay Poling, Connie Fisk, me, and Bill Cline.

Poling discussed pruning technics in muscadines (also in the NC muscadine production guide--which will be getting a much needed update this winter).

Bill Cline discussed late season diseases (mainly ripe rots) and some problems that are NOT disease related like the injury on these Carlos, which appears to be due to a broad mite. There's always something new to learn about!

Muscadine grapes have the fewest severe insect threats of all the crops I work on. The most common questions I get in reference to muscadines this time of year are about bees and wasps on ripe fruit. Most growers and homeowners want to know if they can treat these bees and wasps, which I highly discourage. I did manage to find some other interesting insects in the variety block (while conducting a very scientific flavor comparison).

The upper photo show a leaf roller larva (these are caterpillars which feed on leaf tissue), and the bottom photo is likely a grape berry moth larvae found inside a grape. Although grape berry moth (GBM) can be serious pests of grapes, they are generally rare in NC, and Bill says this is first he's seen in this block. I suggest that growers concerned about GBM use pheromone traps to monitor whether they are present before deciding whether to treat.

No field day would be complete without dessert! Connie provided ice cream with muscadine dessert sauce from Duplin Winery.

I'm also looking for a good grape for my yard, and Southern Home (an "ornamental" muscadine) is at the top of my list. They have interesting foliage--fig leaf in horticultural parlance--and sweet aromatic black fruit. Now to find a spot to plant one.

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