Muscadine pickin’ time

Published 4:05 am Saturday, October 24, 2009

Biting into a muscadine grape, the first flavor to brush the taste buds is a fermented grape, fading to a traditional grape taste and texture.

The only place to find muscadine grapes on the vines in Dallas County is on the land of Floyd and William Bowman of Bowman Produce Company.

Father and son own 160 acres of land, growing crops such as figs, pecans, plums, nectarines and two types of muscadines, called bronze and purple.

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The difference in the two varieties is a personal preference.

“It’s like a do you like chocolate or vanilla thing,” William Bowman said. Only one acre of this land is used for the nine rows of muscadines.

The Bowman family has owned the land along County Road 465 for 40 years. They began growing muscadines in 1986.

Muscadine season this year, which runs from mid-August to mid-October, was not as productive as last year.

“Last year we had 10,000 pounds of muscadines from one acre,” Floyd Bowman said. “This year we had 6,500 pounds. But, I’ve come over just a little bit even.”

Much of the loss of product was due to animals moving the vines, shaking the muscadines off the vines and onto the ground.

Son William enjoys the distinction of growing muscadines.

“The profit margin isn’t great, but it’s something different,” he said. “We don’t have any competition in the area.”

Used to make jelly, wine or eaten alone, muscadines are best a day or two after picking. If they cannot be sold to a store that day or the next morning, they can be stored in the refrigerator.

“My favorite thing is that it’ll cure a headache,” William Bowman said. “I just found that out this year. It’s quicker than Tylenol.”

He learned that by eating about 30 muscadines, his headache went away, although he is not sure if it’s just the muscadines or perhaps the fermenting of them that made him feel more relaxed and sans headache.

Selling first to stores in east and west Alabama, the Bowman men open the remaining muscadines available for picking by the public.

By appointment only, members of the community are welcomed to pick the muscadines between the second week in October and the beginning of November, paying $1 per pound for the amount picked.

Muscadines sell for about $1.30 a pound to stores, where stores turn around and sell it at $5 a pound.

Call 875-1244 for more information.