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Japan Aroma Bomb: The Most Expensive Grapes?

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Large, seedless, with light green skin as well as firm and crispy texture of each single grain, just a nibble to let sweet juice exploding in your mouth along with strong floral and musk aroma.

This is the Japanese 'Shine Muscat', a popular high-class grape that has the trio of quality, aroma, and taste, known as the “Queen of Muscat”. In a vineyard of Japan, a mysterious robot with the classic red color frame was recently spotted to correct the effect of labour shortage on muscat.

A Shine Muscat vineyard in Japan

Japan’s Yamagata Prefecture is one of the four main production areas of Shine Muscat that is widely exported to other Asian countries. However, most grapes are cultivated with intensive labor under a family-run model or small-scale businesses. As elderly farmers retired and rural youth fleeing their villages, the Japanese fruit industry is seeking for new techniques to bear this premium sweet grape variety.

In mid-July, Japanese farmers have brought an autonomous farm robot - XAG R150 Unmanned Ground Vehicle into a private Shine Muscat vineyard in Higashine City, Yamagata Prefecture with the help of drone company Zipangu. They used the robot in a trial to test if this hands-free machine can precisely spray the vineyard and ward off pest insects or diseases.

R150 in a Shine Muscat farm in Higashine City, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan

At the request of the fruit growers, the robot operator adjusted the spray volume and angle carefully on the mobile app. With a few clicks, the R150 began moving forward and spraying water bottom-up to grapevines that climb on the overhead trellis.

This nimble robot also easily traversed beneath the horizontally arranged grapevines, in which farmers need to bend over to walk through. This can reduce adverse health impacts on farmworkers who used to perform repetitive motions. “It’s like a new type of cure to my back pain, I suppose,” a farmer who watched the demo said.

R150 spray on grape vines from the bottom up

From this summer, it is expected that Japanese farmers can enjoy a higher level of automation when growing their queen of fruits.

Who will be the one to taste the first batch of high-value grapes served by an autonomous robot? And are you willing to pay 10 times the price of locally-produced grapes to try this new table variety?

Grape farmers watching the robot demonstration


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