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CCU's RAIN II Conference will explore grape agriculture and products

October 7, 2005

A group of scientists, physicians and agribusiness leaders will meet at Coastal Carolina University on Oct. 14 and 15 for the RAIN II conference to discuss the potential of muscadine grape production in the Pee Dee region. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. in Coastal's Wall Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

The meeting is a follow-up to the first RAIN (Research, Agriculture, Industry and Nature) Conference, which was held last year to begin exploring the economic advantages of grape cultivation. The conference produced a report indicating that in addition to wine and fruit juices, grapes are also a good source for nutraceuticals, which are plant products with medicinal or dietary applications. The major outcome of the conference was a consensus that muscadine could be a viable crop to supplement and perhaps replace tobacco in the Pee Dee region.

The purpose of RAIN II, according to conference organizer Val Dunham, Coastal's associate vice president of grants, contract administration and research, is to bring together people who have expertise in the formation of agriculture-business cooperatives and see how the idea can be applied to connect muscadine agriculture and the budding nutraceutical industry here in the region.

The presenters on Oct. 14 include professors Eugene P. Mayer of USC Columbia, Stephen G. Talcott of the University of Florida, Phillip Greenspan of the University of Georgia, and Myrtle Beach dermatologist Dr. Robert Bibb, who will discuss the medical applications of products made from muscadine grapes.

Research on the agricultural and industrial implications will be discussed by Barclay Poling of North Carolina State University, Debbie Turbeville and Laura Sipple of the USDA, Larry Boyleston of the S.C. Department of Agriculture, Bill Prince of Integrated Environmental Technologies, and Barry Tomlinson of Carolina Agronomic Consultants.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, conference participants will visit Hyman Vineyards near Conway.

The RAIN II conference is sponsored by South Carolina EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), Coastal Carolina University, Francis Marion University, Myrtle Beach Economic Development Corporation, Integrated Environmental Technologies and Dermacon, Inc.

For more information, contact Kathleen Sullivan at 349-4052.