Muscadine vineyard offers alternative crop

By Tom Lollis

Muscadine VineyardThe South Carolina Muscadine Vineyard Project has taken root at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence. The one-acre test plot contains 28 rows of 170 feet, each with three varieties of muscadine grapes – Carlos, Nobel and Doreen.

“We’re looking to develop value-added markets such as nutraceuticals,” said Jody Martin, Clemson Extension agent in Florence County. The nutraceutical, or dietary supplement, industry has annual sales in excess of $80 billion nationally.

Martin called muscadines nature’s number one source of antioxidants. The primary antioxidant, resveratrol, helps protect the heart and nervous system and helps prevent cancer. It is contained in the skin and seeds, while the fiber can be used as filler for some meat products. He is working closely with Dermacon, Inc., a local nutraceutical company. The S.C. Tobacco Growers Association is also interested in the grapes as an alternative crop.

The vineyard demonstrates the basics of grape production, how to install trellises, plant the vines and use a trickle irrigation system. The vines are covered by growth tubes to protect them and allow them to get off to a faster start. Future work includes insect management and developing markets for the grapes, as fresh produce, wine, non-alcoholic juice, nutraceuticals or other products.

For information: Jody Martin, 843-661-4800 ext. 115,