11-Feb-10 10:51 | Eric Stafne

I just returned from a conference in Orlando.  At this particular conference, horticulturists from all over the southern US come to discuss how things are progressing in their programs and to present research.  All fruit crops are discussed, so it is more than grapes.  It seems that Muscadine grapes are all the rage right now.  Breeding programs in North Carolina and Georgia have been revived.  I also learned that germplasm for a seedless muscadine exists in North Carolina; however, that has not been released to the public yet.  Great strides are being made in this area and I think it has gained a foothold for the longterm with its positive buzz for antioxidant content.  Now, if it can be made palatable for Yankees then it would be a real winner!  Our possiblility of growing Muscadines in Oklahoma is probably restricted to I-40 South and I-35 East.  Even some areas within that are marginal — like West of 69.  But breeding for more cold hardy types is being done, so perhaps in the future we will have more choices.

On another note, most universities are taking it in the shorts in terms of budget.  Furloughs are common at most of the universities.  Folks who retire are not being replaced either.  Some horticulture departments are being consolidated (the latest being Michigan State) with other departments.  The loss of identity is worrisome to say the least.  But, we will all get through the tough times and forge ahead.