How Minnesota farmers are using different plant varieties, and new techniques, to extend the state's growing season

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

When horticultural and wine scientists at the University of Minnesota apply for funding to research growing grapes in a climate better known for producing soybeans than wine, they often have to answer a common question: Why bother?

“We get that pushback when we submit grants all the time,” said Matt Clark, who leads the University’s grape breeding project.

The simple answer – why not? – smacks of the same spirit many Minnesotans adopt to handle long, cold winters. Yes, the climate presents challenges, but farmers and ag researchers also see opportunities: Breeding cold-hardy fruit varieties has made the university a lot of money over the years, after all. “We don’t have to fit inside these boxes of what pinot noir tastes like from Washington,” Clark said. “Just logically, people want to grow fruit where they live.”

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