Native grape takes center stage at Sept. 12 Muscadine Workshop

Aug. 24, 2013
Contact Information:

Mary Hightower, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service Communications
501-671-2126 / mhightower@uaex.edu

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CLARKSVILLE, Ark. -- A humble native grape with a dedicated fan base will be the center of attention at the Muscadine Workshop and Field Day set for Sept. 12 at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Fruit Research Station.

Muscadines are a fixture in the South, ranging from southeastern Virginia to eastern Texas. In Arkansas, they grow just about everywhere except the northern counties.

There aren’t any figures on how many acres of muscadines are grown commercially in Arkansas, but there are muscadine vineyards in the wine country of Altus and in White County, and scattered small plantings along with home garden production in most counties in the state. The grapes are marketed as juice, wine or as fresh fruit for the table.

The grapes’ unique taste and mouth feel have something of a cult following.

“The flavor and aroma of muscadine grapes are completely different from that of other grapes,” said John Clark, professor and fruit breeder for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Consumers who are accustomed to muscadines, or who have developed a taste for them, find them a refreshing alternative to other grapes.”

Renee Terrell Threlfall, a research scientist for the division’s Institute of Food Science and Engineering, said the workshop will “be a rare opportunity to attend an Arkansas event that features prominent speakers providing updates on muscadine production and postharvest issues, as well as a spotlight on muscadine cultivars and selections grown at the Fruit Research Station including a vineyard tour of the muscadine breeding program.”

This workshop is being funded in part by the Arkansas Agriculture Department Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

The event runs from 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. and includes dinner and vineyard tour.

On the agenda:

• 3:15-4 p.m. -- Issues in Muscadine Production, Sara Spayd, professor, North Carolina State University
• 4-4:45 pm -- Postharvest Issues with Muscadine and Selection and Cultivar Differences, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, professor, North Carolina State University
• 4:45-5 pm -- Update on Muscadine Postharvest Research Project, Derek Barchenger, graduate assistant, University of Arkansas
• 5-5:30 pm -- Arkansas Muscadine Breeding Program Progress, John Clark, professor and fruit breeder University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
• 6:30-7:30 pm -- Vineyard Tour of the University of Arkansas Muscadine Breeding Program.

The registration fee for this workshop is $25. Registration and payment deadline is Thursday, Aug. 29. For online registration and payment with check or credit card visit http://uark.edu/ua/afls1234/webforms/muscadine_workshop.php.

For other registration information, contact Katie Hanshaw, at 479-754-2406, or khanshaw@uark.edu, or by fax 479-754-7529.