MISSOURI — Cash crops such as corn and soybeans have received a lot of attention with the recent rainy weather and flooding.

However, specialty crop producers such as grape, apple and peach growers face similar challenges.

KMZU’s Dan Watson spoke with Dean Volenberg, a Viticulture Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension, to learn what challenges specialty crop producers face and what pests producers have to deal with.

Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired


According to Volenberg,  floods have hindered grape producers from getting in and out of their vineyards in a timely manner due to the muddy soil.

“Well one of the most difficult things that growers have faced during this rainy period that we have is basically getting in and out of the vineyards with their equipment.”

Whether it is cash crops or specialty crops, flooded fields and vineyards mean loss of yields.

Specialty crop growers are not able to curtail their losses with an already limited crop and according to Volenberg, most growers are not insured, so the losses hit even harder.

Like corn and soybeans, grape, apple and peach growers still face hazards that come with wet weather, namely fungal infections and invasive insects.

“Growing grapes, growing apples, growing peaches, plums, any of those specialty crops, they’re all susceptible of course to fungal disease pressure,” Volenberg said, “and so from the time that those buds first buds out. . .they have to put on protective sprays to protect that foliage from fungal disease pests.”

One of them most common pests is one that is all too familiar to many Missourians, the Japanese Beetle.

“You know of the more common pests that we deal with in Missouri . . . is the Japanese Beetle,” Volenberg stated, “and grapes are a favorite host of the Japanese Beetle, so we’re always fighting Japanese Beetles. . .”

To learn more about Missouri viticulture, visit the University of Missouri Grape and Wine Institute’s website.