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Grape Harvest

John Preece, a professor in SIUC’s Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems department, interviews Bill McNitt of McNitt Greenhouses and Vineyards in Carbondale to learn the processes involved in preparing and harvesting grapes. McNitt explains that his vineyard harvests about 2 1/4 acres of grapes each year, which are sold wholesale to grape buyers for use in winemaking. To determine when grapes are ready for harvest, McNitt and his crew of family and friends conduct a ph test and a sugar reading of a random sample. Grape buyers typically request grapes with a ph of 3.3 and a sugar content of 23 bricks. Each grape vine yields about 15 lbs of grapes, which is approximately 4 tons of grapes per acre. McNitt explains that grape prices are usually negotiable, with the average cost between $850-$1000 per ton. Pruning of the grapevines, which usually takes place in the middle of February and involves the removal of about 90% of growth, helps to ensure a high grape yield.

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