Drought drives good grape year in Minnesota

MN Arboretum HRC John Thull w vines
John Thull with the grapes at the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center.
Paul Huttner | MPR News

The grapes at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Horticultural Research Center are just days away from harvest. That’s particularly early — the fruit has matured much faster in this abnormally dry and warm summer.

This summer is Minnesota’s third-warmest on record through July. And many areas are six inches down on rainfall.

The weather has challenged many in Minnesota. But for grape growers, it’s the silver lining to a difficult 18 months. Mature grape vines with strong root systems thrive in the heat, and their grapes develop a better flavor.

“It’s difficult to navigate. You cant really expect things to be the same from year to year, which makes it hard as a farmer and grower,” said the arboretum’s viticulture expert John Thull. “I would prefer to see the years be a little but more like this year than the other side of the coin, but we take it as it comes.”

Extreme weather events such as drought are a signature of climate change. But overall, Minnesota can expect to get wetter.

To hear more, click play on the audio player above or subscribe to the Climate Cast podcast.

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