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Sept. 23, 2022
By John LovettU of A System Division of Agriculture
Related PHOTOS: https://flic.kr/s/aHskGYVhku
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Muscadine research by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
has been a collaboration between horticulture and food science to demonstrate that
these folksy native grapes appeal to a vast consumer market.
With their unique flavor and health benefits, muscadines offer specialty crop growers
in Arkansas an option to broaden their production or break into a niche market.
“The nutraceuticals, or healthy aspects of eating muscadines, are one of the draws
that people consider about muscadines,” said Renee Threlfall, research scientist of
enology and viticulture with the experiment station, the research arm of the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
However, most people in the United States are not familiar with muscadines, Threlfall
said. She hopes they gain in popularity with new seedless varieties developed by Gardens
Alive! breeder Jeff Bloodworth. The Division of Agriculture and Gardens Alive!, an
Ohio-based company, are partnering to breed new seedless muscadines adapted to Arkansas
and similar regions.
Threlfall was one of the speakers at the Muscadine Workshop and Field Day on Sept.
19 at the Fruit Research Station near Clarksville. Over 50 people turned out for the
annual event. Division of Agriculture speakers also included Margaret Worthington,
associate professor of fruit breeding and genetics; and Amanda McWhirt, associate
professor and fruit and horticulture production specialist. Guest speakers included
Bloodworth; Joseph Post, vice president of sales for Post Winery in Altus; and Greg
Ison, co-owner of Ison’s Nursery and Vineyard in Brooks, Georgia.
Experiment station scientists have conducted research on muscadine post-harvest handling
and processing for 15 years and continue to seek ways to help Arkansas producers.
Cody Rawls, one of Threlfall’s graduate students, researched the post-harvest aspects
of shelf-life, color stability, consumer preferences and winemaking methods that work
best with Arkansas-grown muscadines. He compared a new Division of Agriculture muscadine
selection and a traditional processing muscadine fermented with different grape skin
contact times. A consumer panel found that muscadine wines made from the Division
of Agriculture selection without grape skin contact time was the most preferred wine.
Graduate student Jordan Chenier measured volatile compounds in six Arkansas-grown
muscadine varieties to determine what gives muscadines that unique aroma and flavor.
Two compounds identified in these muscadine grapes included geraniol, with floral
and rosy notes, and hexanal with fruity and grassy notes, Threlfall said. Bloodworth
noted that an o-aminoacetophenone is a chemical compound that gives the muscadine
it’s “musky” aroma.
Muscadine varieties are often divided into two categories: “fresh-market” muscadine
varieties for eating and “processing” muscadine varieties for jellies, juices and
wines. The Division of Agriculture expects to release a new muscadine variety from
both categories next year.
Threlfall said her research has shown that Arkansas fresh-market varieties have a
post-harvest shelf life of two to four weeks if they are picked and handled properly.
Additional research is needed, she said, to determine if that post-harvest window
is long enough or if they need to work to breed muscadines to extend shelf life. Breeding
a muscadine that has a good “dry stem scar” when torn away from the stem is important
to shelf life, she noted.
“What we found is that for Arkansas cultivars after four weeks of storage in a clamshell
container, over 90 percent of the fruit in the container was marketable,” Threlfall
said. “That was what we were looking for.”
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas,
contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: John LovettU of A System Division of AgricultureArkansas Agricultural Experiment Station(479) firstname.lastname@example.org