Vine to the Plate
Andy Thomas, horticulturist at the Southwest Research Center, examines grapes at the 2-acre vineyard. Andy is assisting in a study on which types of table grapes will work best in Missouri as a future crop for growers.
Table grapes could be the next crop for Missouri's fruit industry.
Missouri has long been known as the Show-Me State. More recently, it has been recognized for its geology with the nickname as the Cave State. Given the history of the agriculture products grown in the state, it might be hard not to place Missouri as a grape state.
In the mid 1800s German immigrants established some of the first wineries around Hermann. Today, more than 120 wineries across the state could classify Missouri as one of the country’s elite wine producers. And for almost as long as there have been vineyards, the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources has been a part of Missouri vino. From the state’s first entomologist C.V. Riley, an University of Missouri professor, who helped save the French wine industry, to the work from the MU Grape and Wine Institute, CAFNR is leading the way for research and growth of the wine industry in Missouri.
“While wine grape production is well-established in Missouri, the production of seedless pop-in-your-mouth table grapes is just beginning,” says Andrew Thomas, horticulturist at the Southwest Research Center. “Very few people are growing table grapes in the state; therefore, a huge untapped market is available for producers.”
At the Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon Andrew established a 2-acre vineyard in 2008 for research on wine-grape varieties and rootstocks. Within the large vineyard, a single row of tables also were planted. A second table grape harvest was recently completed. A similar study is also taking place at the Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center in New Franklin.