Domestic Shine Muscat grapes (also known as 'Shine Muscat green grapes'), have quickly gained a great reputation in the Chinese market. The overall surface area devoted to Shine Muscat grape plantation quickly expanded as a result of improvements in relevant plantation technologies. But conditions in various production areas are significantly different. Mr. Yu Binwen of Sichuan Yuecheng Mingzhu Agriculture Co., Ltd. recently talked about relevant market communications to explain developments in the Shine Muscat grape industry.
"The Shine Muscat grape was originally introduced from Japan. The first Chinese Shine Muscat grapes were grown in Xichang in 2011. The Shine Muscat industry rapidly expanded until 2016. This variety is sensitive to temperature and humidity levels. Xichang is at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level where all seasons are like spring. The temperature differences between day and night are big, and there is enough rainfall. These conditions are ideal for the plantation of Shine Muscat grapes."
One of the key conditions for successful Shine Muscat grape plantation is appropriate plantation technology. "We selected the Shine Muscat grape variety for Xichang and utilized plantation technologies that best complement the natural conditions in Xichang. We also improved plantation management methods to better control every step of the agricultural production process."
In terms of facilities, the vineyard makes use of large tunnels covered in clear plastic with irrigation lines and automatic fertilizer systems that reduce the need for manual labor. The systems distribute organic fertilizer and maximize the efficiency of fertilizer. The tunnels also feature equipment to lower the temperature and adjust humidity levels to optimum conditions for the sensitive Shine Muscat grapes. In addition, our plantation is operated on the principle of ecological diversity. The grapes co-exist with other organisms and they are covered with protective pouches to avoid plant diseases and insect pests. Finally, average precipitation in Xichang is too much for Shine Muscat grapes, so the plastic tunnels help reduce the amount of water that the grapes receive."
"Shine Muscat grapes from Xichang enter the market in the middle of July and the supply season continues until early October. The supply volume is stable throughout the season. One of the characteristics of Xichang Shine Muscat grapes is the large size of the bunches and the individual grapes. For example, third-grade Shine Muscat grapes in other production areas weigh around 8-10 grams, but in Xichang third-grade Shine Muscat grapes weigh around 10-12 grams, second-grade grapes weigh around 12-15 grams, and first-grade grapes weigh more than 15 grams.
"Xichang essentially has only two grades between 10-15 grams and over 15 grams. As for the flavor, the temperature in Xichang is not exceptionally high, so the Shine Muscat grapes are more fragrant, crispier, and larger. Their flavor is outstanding. Moreover, the scale of production is large, so the production volume is huge and the average cost price is low. And the low cost price also gives the Xichang Shine Muscat grapes a price advantage in the market."
The size of the bunches and the individual grapes is larger in Xichang, so the packing facilities usually opt for plastic packaging which better suits the large size and helps to reduce the cost price. One of the goals for Shine Muscat farmers in Xichang is to reduce the size of the bunch to 750 grams but to keep the individual grapes big. When done right, the smaller bunches spread the sugar content more evenly so that both the grapes at the top and and the bottom taste the same. The smaller bunches provide customers with a better experience.
When asked about challenges for production areas this season, Yu Binwen replied, "there was a lot of rain during the blossom season, so much so that the overall amount of sunshine was reduced by 30%-40%. We therefore managed fertilizer in such a way that the overall production volume declined, which helped offset the reduction of sunshine hours. We also adjusted our plantation technology to improve the ripening process. We are very satisfied with the size of the grapes, but we have not entirely reached our goals. We will continue to make adjustments until we grow the ideal Shine Muscat grapes."
Sichuan Yuecheng Mingzhu Agriculture Co., Ltd. primarily grows Shine Muscat grapes. Their vineyard covers an area of 67 hectares. They sell their grapes to wholesale traders and fruit markets. But they also sell via direct-purchase platforms such as Pagoda and XF Fruit. And they have begun to explore new retail methods such as e-commerce platforms.
For more information:
Sichuan Yuecheng Mingzhu Agriculture Co., Ltd.
Tel.: +86 133 4097 6929