Muscadine Field Day

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 31, 2019

People flocked to the Mississippi State University McNeill Research Unit Thursday to fill bags with free muscadine grapes and listen to lectures from professors about the fruit.

Lectures focused on protecting the vines from insects and disease and on their detection. Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Olga Mavrodi gave a lecture on Pierce’s Disease and techniques used to identify it. She displayed pink and yellow colonies of the bacteria that cause the disease. Mavrodi said the event offers a good opportunity to share academic research with the public.

“We always try to educate children, but it’s even better if we can educate grownups,” Mavrodi said.

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MSU fruit crop specialist Dr. Eric Stafne talked about the aerial roots that can grow on muscadine vines. The roots resemble worms, but are actually a stress reaction from the vine most commonly caused by cold injury, Stafne said.

After the presentations, attendees were given a gallon bag and allowed to pick muscadines from the vines.

Dr. Cedric Sims brought the high school students in his agricultural natural resources class at Hines Community College.

“A lot of them, they’ve never seen a muscadine before,” Sims said.

Sims brought his students with the hope that the event would teach them about the economic benefits of agriculture. Sims explained the different varieties of muscadines to his students, while they taste tested the fruit.

Rosemary Tate attended the annual event to pick muscadines so she could make jelly, she said.

“I’m enjoying every moment of it,” Tate said.

Mandy Sutton has attended the field day four times, she said, because she learns something new every time. Sutton has a few muscadine vines at her home and may plant more, she said.

The event went well, said Stafne, and offered a great opportunity for the community to learn about the work being done at the university.

As some attendees picked the fruit from the vine to add to their gallon bag, plenty of muscadines were eaten on site. Sutton said the event is always “good eats.”