Warm, dry weather putting grapes in danger

SMITHVILLE, Mo. - The signs of trouble are everywhere in the vineyards at the Ladoga Ridge Winery near Smithville, Mo.

"Yellowing and leaf damage," said owner Galen Haddock. "You shouldn't be able to see through the vineyard. You should have long chutes with succulent leaves."

Instead, the rows are filled with thin and crispy vines.

Haddock planted the rows three years ago and this August should be his first harvest for the new business. But it's in danger.

"We needed rain yesterday," said Haddock.

What little moisture goes into the vine is running straight to the grapes, leaving the rest of the plant bone dry. Soon, Haddock said the grapes could be sacrificed to save the vine for next year.

"We were hoping to get a good bumper crop this year, obviously. But it looks like it's going to be 50-percent less than what we were hoping for," said Haddock.

If the next two weeks stay dry, Haddock said he will get rid of every grape for the sake of the vine.

An irrigation system would keep the crop safe, but many Missouri vineyards don't have them because it's usually a wet enough climate.

Haddock said if they fail to produce a crop, he will have to purchase grapes from other wineries. He said that makes the wine 50-percent more expensive to produce.

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