Local grape production is expected to be lower this year, if only because last year was “beat Records”.
Grape season typically begins in early May, with flowering occurring around June 8. The season ends towards the end of August, or the end of September or the beginning of October for juice grapes.
It’s too early to tell how local production will go this year. “We especially know what happened last year,” said Kevin Martin, business management specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program. “We won’t really know until mid-July.”
Martin added that last year’s production broke records.
“We won’t really know until that happens, but I’d be surprised if production improves this year,” said Martin. “Last year we broke records, so it probably won’t be better than that, but that’s nothing to worry about. It can still work during the year.
What’s most concerning for grape growers right now, Martin said, is similar to farmers in other industries — inflation.
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“We probably talk a lot about yield,” said Martin. “It’s an important element, but what concerns us the most at the moment are the prices. Prices have risen relatively, leading to additional inputs. We face the same volatility as everyone else.
He added, “Inflation and uncertainty are a big concern. Labor costs and price are uncertain. Everything is difficult to plan.”
The program’s Portland facility offers an educational seminar on July 11, with more labor effect seminars in early August and November for interested winemakers.
Researchers and the extension are doing what they can to help address labor and inflation issues, Martin said.
“We do what we can, but the challenges can be beyond our control,” he said. “We can’t predict what’s going to happen, and that affects our ability to react.”