Fifteen more N.J. farms growing grapes than in 2012
The grape industry is a growing part of agriculture in New Jersey.
The crop is cultivated in 18 of the State’s 21 counties.
According to the most recent data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA, there were 212 farms growing grapes in New Jersey in 2017; these farms included 1,124 acres dedicated to grape cultivation.
These statistics represented a growth from 2012. In that year, there were 1,082 acres where grapes were grown at 197 farms in the State.
Bruce Eklund, New Jersey state statistician with the NASS of the USDA, said that the Federal government conducts a Census of Agriculture every five years. The most recent years for this census were in 2012 and 2017.
The largest number of farms growing grapes are located in Gloucester, Sussex, and Monmouth Counties; each of these counties have more than 20 farms cultivating grapes.
Gloucester, Warren, Atlantic, Camden, and Monmouth counties each have more than 100 acres of grapes under cultivation as of 2017.
According to Gary Pavlis, PhD, Professor at Rutgers,
The State University of New Jersey and Atlantic County Agricultural Agent, grapes are grown on approximately 2,500 acres in New Jersey as of 2020.
“All grapes grown are sold to wineries in New Jersey,” explained Dr. Pavlis. “With the expanding market, all wineries could use more grapes vineyards in New Jersey.”
Weather conditions affected the crop harvest last year. “2020 was a good year for grape growing except there were a few frost occurrences that decreased the crop,” noted Dr. Pavlis. “Probably 10- to 15-percent total decrease.”
In addition, Dr. Pavlis indicated that there was also some damage done to the grape crop by birds: “2020 was a very bad year for bird predation, especially with Starlings. It appears that this problem is increasing.”
Growth is anticipated to continue in the grape industry in New Jersey.
“I see nothing but a growing industry,” stated Dr. Pavlis. “There are still new wineries about to open and people interested in starting a winery. I believe the biggest factor in the future will be increased technology.” Dr. Pavlis noted that he recently learned about soon-to-be available “…UV light devices that will control some of the most problematic fungal diseases.”
“It should be understood that the most limiting factor for growing grapes in New Jersey has always been winter temperatures,” continued Dr. Pavlis. “Temps lower than (minus-5 F) will kill most classic grape varieties such as Merlot. With global warming there is less chance of vine death and more chance of classic grape growing throughout the state.”
The grape industry is a key part of sustainability efforts within New Jersey.
“Viticultural and wine production is an important sector of our economy in this State,” said Douglas Fisher, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture. “It provides a crop that is highly desirable and in demand, which in turns keeps these valuable lands sustainable for agriculture.”
“I have long said that the wine industry keeps the garden in the Garden State,” said Dr. Pavlis. “It is the fastest growing segment of agriculture. The industry has saved many farms over the last few decades and has saved open space that would have gone to parking lots and condos.
“I am always on the lookout for a suitable piece of land. I am not liked by developers.”
(Editor’s note: This is the first edition of “The Gairdini Of New Jersey Chronicles,” a news column that will detail agriculture in New Jersey — the Garden State of the United States. “Gairdini” is Irish for “Gardens.”)
(Editor’s note: Contact Richard McDonough at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2021 Richard McDonough.)