WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - We’ve seen more than our fair share of rain over the past year and it’s really taken a toll on grape farmers and vineyards in southeastern North Carolina.
Prime harvest time for the grapes was right around the time when Hurricane Florence hit our coast causing some farmers to lose up to half of their crop. Grape vine roots don’t like standing water and record-breaking rainfall in the Wilmington area in 2018 led to flooding which was detrimental to the crop.
The normal growth of a grape vine uses several gallons of water a day, but it can’t withstand the amount of water that we had all at one time. A grape is made up of approximately 60 to 70 percent water, and once it reaches that percentage, it’s unable to hold anymore. Grapes then become oversaturated and its skin bursts.
In this situation with the hurricane and all the rain it either fell off or blew off because it had too much water.
Then we had several days with sun-shining on them and that just made it grow exceedingly fast. And that’s when it became damaged.
“We’re not a heavily flood prone area, but with all of the rain and Florence together, the water was tremendously high. We are well drained to the creeks around or to the Cape Fear River but it was up several feet over the banks. Some of our fields had water standing in them and it’s still wet today. It’s the wettest I’ve seen it in my lifetime,” Ron Taylor, president of Lu Mil Vineyard in Bladen County.
Taylor also said that the excessive amounts of rain won’t impact the taste of the wine. However, since last year’s rain took out half his crop, Taylor says he will have to be flexible this year.
He will likely have to raise prices, and believes many other farmers in the area will be forced to do the same.