Awake at crack of dawn to ensure highest-quality grapes for clients

Qian Tong
It's the best season to taste the succulent and sweet Malu grapes.
Qian Tong

It's the best season to taste the succulent and sweet fruits grown in the district, including luscious Malu grapes.

As early as 4am, Xie Xueqi in Malu Town woke up and walked to the grape field inside plastic green houses to pick grapes.

"Fresh grapes are the best in quality, so I get up early to pick the grapes and deliver them to clients early in the morning. They can receive fresh fruit the same day. To delay for a day means less tasty grapes for clients," Xie said.

"This morning I have to deliver 250 kilograms of grapes, so I need to pick and package them before the deliveryman arrived," he added.

Xie and his wife came to Jiading from Henan Province in central China more than a decade ago. He learned the skills to plant grapes in Malu, as Malu is a famous brand in Shanghai. He then became a professional grape grower with a parcel of land about the size of a standard soccer field.

To pick the highest-quality grapes, Xie must carefully observe the grape spike and then peel open the paper bag that wrapped around the fruit for pest control and preventing from being eaten by birds. After confirming the fruit was fully grown and ready to pick, he then cut the bag of grapes and gently put it into a basket.

In order to grow the highest-quality grapes, Xie participated in several training sessions to learn about the latest planting technology.

"If the grapes are grown freely, the yield is indeed high, but the quality is not. Therefore, I accurately control the weight of each bundle of grapes by trimming the spikes several times," Xie said.

He can pick around 50 kilograms of grapes in half an hour. To pick 250 kilograms, it takes him around two hours.

Before the delivery man arrives, Xie and his wife are busy weighing the grapes and then packaging them. Before putting them in boxes, however, he checks the grapes one last time to ensure the highest quality and customer satisfaction.

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