Minnesota Growing Season Taxing
The Minnesota growing season started and ended with unusually cold weather according to John Marshall, owner of Great River Vineyard and Nursery in Lake City, Minnesota. Most notably, on September 15th, an early hard frost hit much of the state. Vista Acres Vineyard in Pillager Minnesota, near Brainerd, reported a low of 23 degrees.
According to Marshall, the frost damage was spotty across the state. Some vineyards had light damage while others were defoliated. As for longer term damage to the vines, Marshall said that vines losing their canopy before the canes harden can cause problems. However, he doubts any major damage was done to most vineyards.
Spring in Minnesota was also cold and the blossom was very late, Marshall said. Also during the Spring came heavy rains “like we have not seen in many years.” Heavy moisture early in the season elevated disease pressure. Midseason was very warm which brought the crop along quickly. During August, there was little rain statewide. The crop was just starting to catch up when the earliest frost since the 1970’s hit in mid-September. While Marshall admits 2011 is not a banner year in Minnesota, the grapes being harvested now are acceptable quality. “Every year in Minnesota is unique,” he concluded.