Partner Profile: North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association
North Carolina is home to one of the oldest cultivated muscadine grape vines in the country. Now, many varieties of muscadine grapes thrive on nearly 2,000 acres all over the state. For more than 45 years, the North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association (NCMGA) has promoted research to discover and develop new varieties, methods of production and processing, marketing, and disease control for the grapes. As part of this mission, they became an early funder of the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative (N.C. PSI).
“We invested in N.C. PSI because more research is needed on muscadine production, the flavor profile of the juice and their health benefits,” said Debby Wechsler, executive secretary of the NCMGA. “Our growers rely on NC State for production recommendations backed by science.”
Muscadine grapes are grown for fresh eating as well as wine production. The Southeastern grapes are fat-free, high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants. Consumers can find muscadine grapes in late summer and fall at pick-your-own farms and farmers markets. Muscadine wines from the state’s wineries and other muscadine products are available year-round.
Part of the NCMGA’s mission is to make muscadines better known so that the public understands more about the historically relevant, delicious grape.
“Consumer interest has been growing because of increased awareness of the health benefits of muscadines,” said Wechsler. “Seedless muscadine varieties are also beginning to be produced and will likely be a game-changer for the fresh market.”
The NCMGA is hoping N.C. PSI will also partner in efforts to build regional connections and support muscadine research across the Southeast. NCMGA looks forward to working with N.C. PSI and NC State Extension to continue the research and education to help their growers get the information they need to grow the healthful, flavorful and regionally adapted grapes.
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Senior Director of Development, Plant Sciences Initiative