WESTFIELD — The lack of rain in June hasn’t negatively impacted the local grape crop and experts predict an average harvest compared to last year’s banner season, according to a local viticulturist.
“We are actually above the five-year average for precipitation in inches at this point in time in the growing season,” Jennifer Phillips Russo, a viticulturist with the Erie Regional Grape Program, told WNYNewsNow. “It’s been pretty good thus far.”
With high sun and high temperature “We don’t have certain fungal pathogen infection periods,” Phillips Russo said. “So our grape clusters can stay pretty clean without having to fight off any infections or disease.”
Growers take great care in water conservation measures and using cover crops, she explained.
Two early frosts in May had growers concerned about a lesser crop, but the grapes seemed to come through the frost in good shape, she said.
“Last year was a banner year, this year we had two cold and frost events that hit early in the Concord growing season,” she said. “They got hit a little bit so we’re looking at an average year this year.”
Current growing conditions should not impact the flavor of this year’s grape crop, she explained.
“We want the growing conditions as it sort of is now. Drought can impact the flavor later on. It can bring the sugars down and dehydrate the grapes a little, but we won’t know that until we get there.”
Overall, the crop is not expected to be poor or great.
“So far its an average crop which is a lot more optimistic than we thought in May when we got hit with a frost,” Phillips Russo said. “We’re now looking into about an average year. Everybody sort of is reporting the same thing. Some are even saying its not as gloom and doom as was predicted in early June. It’s all good news thus far.”