PITSBURG – Franklin Monroe FFA went grape harvesting on Sept. 8 and 20. The grape harvesting took place at Abney Vineyard near Greenville. The owner of the vineyard, Ted Abney, was very kind to let them help him clip grapes for wine and grape juice lovers. Some of the FFA members that helped clip grapes were Taylor Armstrong, Walker Lindemuth, Austin Cool, Morgan Baker, Parker Schaar, Karson Beck, Zach Wilson, Lindsey Garrett, Zach Garber, and Blake Addis.
Before beginning, the students listened to the experts at the vineyard as they explained which grapes to cut and what to look for. After a brief lesson, the students were assigned to a row and they worked with a partner as they traveled down the row harvesting the ripe grapes. They learned the grapes are tested for sugar levels and when they reach the ideal levels they need to be harvested quickly. Everyday past the prime level changes the sugar levels which affects the overall quality of the grape. The students cut the grapes and put them in small yellow totes as they traveled down the row. As the small totes got full, another group came along and took those full totes and transferred the grapes into large totes that were loaded on a trailer and hauled away.
While working at the vineyard, the group also got a closer look at some of the challenges that come with raising grapes. The owners are constantly checking the health of the vines and making sure pests like Japanese Beetles are not a problem. They also have to watch out for diseases like powdery mildew and birds and other wildlife also create challenges. This proved to be an excellent learning opportunity and the students hope to take a trip to a local winery to see what happens to the grapes at the next stop on their journey.