Muscadine growers in southern North Carolina came through the hot summer with surprisingly good yields.

But much of the luster was lost because demand didn’t keep up with production. To make matters worse, there was some unexpected competition from Georgia.

On the production side, though, it was a season to remember.

“It was a very good year,” said Connie Fisk, North Carolina Extension associate specializing in muscadines. “We saw high yield and for the most part, good quality. “

One big reason for the good production was the almost disease-free spring, said Whit Jones, president of the Muscadine Grape Growers of North Carolina. “Diseases didn’t appear until very late in the spring, and it was dry, so there wasn’t much disease pressure.”

An estimate of total production in the state wasn’t available, but Fisk pointed out that there were some nine-ton-per-acre yields of the popular Carlos variety. On an average crop, the yield range for this variety might be from five to eight tons, she said.

But the big yield led to over-production, and some of the excess production had no home, Fisk said.

Also, demand was flat, or at least less than projected. “When the vines that are just now coming into production were first established, the wineries thought the demand now would be greater,” she said. “Less growth actually took place, probably because of the poor economy.”

So with high yields and lower-than-expected demand, growers were already looking at a marketing problem.