What is in this article?:
- 2012 was a mixed year for Carolina fruits, vegetables
- Were some winners
• How strange was it? Well, for one day in September, a large vineyard in Dublin, N.C., opened the doors to the public and let anyone pick muscadine grapes, all that they wanted, for free.
• But the rains fell badly for many growers in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina.
THERE WAS PLENTY of fresh produce for sale at the North Carolina Farmers Market in Raleigh well into November, like these gourds and ornamental squash.
It was a strange season for fruit and vegetable crops in the Carolinas.
How strange was it? Well, for one day in September, a large vineyard in Dublin, N.C., opened the doors to the public and let anyone pick muscadine grapes, all that they wanted, for free.
“Our yield was so good we simply couldn't handle any more of them,” says Ron Taylor, a farmer and owner of Lu Mil Vineyards. “It started raining at just the right time, and when the crop matured and sweetened up, we had the biggest crop of muscadine grapes in the vineyard's history.”
It was more than the winery could possibly use, so Taylor decided that instead of just leaving the grapes on the vine, he would invite the community in to enjoy the bountiful harvest.
In terms of familiarizing people with the product, it was a big success.
“We must have had 1,800 people here, and I am sure some of them were first time visitors to the vineyard,” said Taylor. “We hope to see many of them back again.”
Even after the giveaway, Taylor said he probably left 50 or 60 tons of grapes in the field. “For muscadines, it was an exceptional year here,” he says.
But that was because the rain fell abundantly at the right times. Those same rains interfered with the production of other horticultural crops.
The rains fell badly for many growers in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina. Tré Coleman, manager of the state farmers market at Florence, says the timing of late-season plantings had been disrupted, so that while the “season” started two or three weeks early, it ended about that much early because growers didn’t have anything to sell.
“We'd started off early with the mild temperatures and favorable rain, but then we got too much rain at times,” Coleman said. “The water got us ‘between’ crops, and we never really caught up.”
It was a little bit of a disappointment since South Carolina farmers had been able to plant crops fairly late in the season. Then, they had the produce later than usual in the year.
“But they will try it again next season,” said Coleman. “It is a good strategy.”