August 25, 2022
BEIJING – Carrying a sugar testing machine in his hand, Zhao Yao, walks around his vineyard to check whether the grapes are sweet enough to harvest.
“Sunshine Muscat grapes are not easy to plant. Usually higher levels of sugar means good taste,” said Zhao, who is in his 20s, about the vineyard of 6.7 hectares in Binchuan county, Yunnan province. “Testing the sugar level is a necessary step to make sure the quality of the grapes meets market standards.”
To do the tests, Zhao needs to stoop: He always picks grapes nearest the ground to test. Two-thousand bunches of grapes can be tested daily, a task that takes him up to eight hours.
“The ideal sugar level is between 16 to 18 percent before the grapes go to market,” he said.
Yunnan’s Binchuan county is a renowned Sunshine Muscat grape production base. In 2021, the value of the agriculture sector in Binchuan reached 13 billion yuan ($1.89 billion), mainly growing grapes and pomegranates.
“Farmers can make a profit as long as the price is around 20 to 30 yuan per kilogram,” Zhao said.
Poor logistics and cold storage facilities once hampered the agriculture industry in Binchuan. In the first half of this year, about 480 million yuan was loaned to support a cold-chain logistics center here.
The industry also provides jobs for local farmers to sort, weigh, package and label the grapes.