Five decades ago, Iowa had a thriving grape-growing industry which some say can be revived. The Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development Office in the western Iowa town of Oakland has hired a viticulture technician. Eli Bergmeier says his job is to help all Iowa grape growers chose the best sites and varieties. One of his duties will be to determine how many acres are in production in Iowa as estimates range from 50 acres to several hundred.The 28-year-old Plymouth, Nebraska, native says Iowa’s soil is perfect for grape-growing and he recommends it as an alternative crop to corn and soybean producers. The Hawkeye State was a grape leader in the 1940s and 50s until most of the crop was wiped out by a corn herbicide called “2-4-D” which drifted from corn crops onto the grapes and killed them. He’s confident Iowa’s “ripe” to rebuild the grape industry. He says noone knows what the ceiling is on grapes, but he says the soil is very suitable to grapes. Bergmeier can be reached at the Oakland office at (712) 482-3029 or via email at email@example.com.
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