Integrated Pest Management and Sustainable Grape Production in Sonoma County

Final Report for FW03-007

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2003: $13,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Nick Frey
Sonoma County Grape Growers Assn.
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Project Information

Summary:

Project's Purpose:

Our objectives include: decreasing pesticide use whenever possible, increasing use of reduced-risk or organic pesticides when treatments are needed, and reassuring the non-farming community that grape growers are committed to safe, sustainable grape production.

Major work completed:

Sonoma County growers are decreasing pesticide usage and are selecting pesticides with fewer environmental impacts. Grower commitments to environmental stewardship and sustainable grape production are evidenced by their participation in the Code of Sustainable wine growing. (Over 200 growers who farm nearly 15,000 acres - 25% of Sonoma County total acreage - have completed and submitted self-assessments of their farming practices for inclusion in the statewide report.)

The continuity of using the 4 Demonstration vineyards as working examples of grape growing for 5 consecutive years and having those cutting edge vineyard managers share their knowledge of grape growing imparts example over word.

Significant Results:

Thirty-eight or 66% of those surveyed for the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Grower Appellation Meeting(s) (GAM) Evaluation (Appendix # 1) stated they changed their management practices as a result of the IPM GAM. Changes included:

  • Minimizing pesticides & fungicides & more tolerance with wildlife
  • Started managing nymph counts with monitoring sheets from IPM Book
  • Tolerances for pests have increased
  • Mulch, owl boxes & new pesticides
  • More monitoring before spraying
  • Trend toward "softer sprays"

Impacts & how it has affected our operation:

The greatest impacts of the IPM program are increasing use of pest monitoring results, increasing tolerance for uneconomic pest levels, e.g. weeds, insects or mites, and increasing use of reduced risk pesticides. The monthly grower meetings are attended by over 10% of Sonoma County's 963 grape growers (MKF Research - Economic Impact of California Wine 2004). Grower to grower exchanges continue to prove valuable in sharing experiences with current pest and disease problems and by increasing awareness about reduced risk alternatives, particularly to pesticides under FQPA (Food Quality Protection Act) review. Data on pesticide use (Appendix # 2) show 28% reductions in lbs applied from 1997 - 2002 while grape acres increased 49%. Pesticides under FQPA review decreased 35% in lbs used and 24% in acres treated from 1999 to 2002. Grape acres increased 16% over the same period. These decreases in pesticide usage resulted in considerable savings (likely over $10 million) due to fewer pesticide purchases and fewer applications, especially for miticides, insecticides and fungicides.

Introduction

See Summary

Project Objectives:

Integrated pest management is vital for Sonoma County grape growers.

Objectives include:

  • to decrease pesticide use whenever possible
  • to increase use of reduced-risk or organic pesticides when treatments are needed
  • to reassure the non-farming community that grape growers are committed to safe,
    sustainable grape production.

Anticipated Results:

  • Achieve total grower attendance of 90 or more at monthly GAM and 125 or more at the IPM Field Day.
  • Achieve non-farming community attendance of 25 or more at the IPM Field Day.
  • Publish one or more articles on some aspect of the IPM program in newspapers or magazines.
  • Further reduce total use of 9 pesticides under FQPA review that are reported in the CA Pesticide Use Report (PUR) (1 -year lag in published data).
  • Implement the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices program with 75 or more growers in 2003.

Cooperators

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  • Rhonda Smith

Research

Materials and methods:

The project established 4 demonstration vineyards, one in each of the major American Viticulture Areas or appellations of Sonoma County. Monthly Grower Appellation Meetings (GAM) were held from April through July to facilitate grower-to-grower education on integrated pest management. Annual IPM Field Days were held each August to review the pest monitoring data and pest management decisions made for each demonstration vineyard that year. The 2003 IPM Field Day on August 6 reviewed four years of monitoring data for each of the demonstration vineyards.

Research results and discussion:

The vineyard managers for the 4 Demonstration Vineyards are recognized as progressive farmers by other growers in their appellation. Each manager practices IPM with regular vineyard monitoring, and the same diligence is used in all aspects of their farming. All are committed to using reduced-risk pesticides when possible and to limiting use of the 9 pesticides under FQPA (Food Quality Protection Act) review. Cover crops are used to reduce erosion from winter rains and to provide greater biological diversity in the vineyard. Soil or plant water status is measured to aid in irrigation scheduling. All use drip irrigation to conserve water and recognize the 5 importance of irrigation management to control canopy growth and limit the need for shoot thinning or canopy hedging. A balanced and open canopy also reduces disease pressures that affect yield and grape quality. The Demonstration Vineyards are in distinct growing regions of Sonoma County. Climatic conditions vary dramatically among the 4 vineyard locations and the pest pressures encountered will likely differ for each vineyard. Growers attend theGAM nearest their ranch where pest and predator monitoring data are likely to be relevant to their own
vineyards.

Thirty-eight or 66% of those surveyed for the evaluation (Appendix # 1) stated they changed their management practices as a result of the IPM GAM. Changes included:

  • Minimizing pesticides & fungicides & more tolerance with wildlife
  • Started managing nymph counts with monitoring sheets from IPM Book
  • Tolerances for pests have increased
  • Mulch, owl boxes & new pesticides
  • More monitoring before spraying
  • Trend toward "softer sprays"
  • Try to improve herbicide efficiency with nozzle & rate adjustments
Participation Summary

Research Outcomes

No research outcomes

Education and Outreach

Participation Summary:

Education and outreach methods and analyses:

The primary means of information dissemination were through grower-to-grower exchanges at the IPM GAM, Organic Producers Group meetings and IPM / Organic Producers Group Field Day. The average attendance at the monthly IPM GAM increased from 66 growers per month in 2000, to 99 per month in 2004. The 4 monthly Organic Producers Group meetings averaged 36 growers, the same as in 2003. The 2 Field Days held during the duration of this grant were very successful. The August 7th, 2003 Field Day and the August 4~ Field Day were held at the Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm in Forestville, CA. In 2002, 170 growers, industry leaders and members of the general public attended, and 150 participants attended in 2003 and 2004. (see photos # 2,3,4, & 5) At each field day IPM Fact Sheets (Appendix # 10) and Agendas (Appendix # 11) were handed out explaining the project's goals, objectives, grower accomplishments, pesticides under FQPA review, pesticide usage trends and other program information.

SCGGA promoted the program and reported on results achieved in the Demonstration Vineyards in the SCGGA News, (Appendices # 12) a bi-monthly newsletter for our 700 members. Rhonda Smith, UCCE Viticulture Farm Advisor, also reports on elements of the IPM program in her Extension newsletter. Nick Frey, executive director, contributed to an article that appeared in the MarchlApril2004 Practical Winery and Vineyard (Appendix # 3) entitled "Exploring Factors Affecting Change Toward Reduced Risk Pest Management," by Jennifer Campos and Minghua Zhang. In addition, Nick Frey and Laura Breyer, PCA for project, gave a poster presentation, July 15,2004, on "Organic Production and Organic Production Services in Sonoma County" at the California Conference on Biological Control-Biological Control and Organic Production in Berkeley, California. (Appendix # 4) An article was submitted to PESP on Pesticide Reduction Efforts on May 30,2004, (Appendix # 13). Several articles already mentioned appear on the SCGGA website, www.scgga.org, along with IPM GAM Notes for each meeting and Organic Producer Group meeting notes. Flyers were emailed, faxed and generally distributed for the 2003 and 2004 IPM Field Days (Appendix # 14).

SCGGA jointly sponsored the Pest Management Alliance Field Day on April 25,2003 at Holy Ghost Hall in Sebastopol, CA. with about 110 attending, including 27 Private Applicators and 20 PCA's. In addition, about 350 to 400 growers, winery representatives and suppliers attended SCGGA events, i.e. Dollars and $ense seminar in January 2003 and 2004 at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, CA. (see photo #1) and the Buyers and Sellers BBQ in May 2003 and 2004, where a display of the IPM and Organic program with pest and predator monitoring 7 summaries was shared with growers. Over 200 Growers attended the UCCE Grape Day each year to learn about pest, disease and physiological problems Sonoma County grape growers face. SCGGA is a co-sponsor for this technical viticulture meeting. 

In Santa Rosa, CA., there were 8 monthly PCA Breakfast Meetings in 2003 and 7 meetings in 2004 from FebruaryNarch through August, including a November season wrap up. Those PCAYs who attended one or more breakfast meetings regularly monitor over 15,000 acres or 25% of Sonoma County's total grape acres.

Vineyard Manager Luncheons were held at Cricklewood Restaurant in Santa Rosa, CA. They began in January and continued through May, and included presentations on organic and reduced-risk pest controls. About 20 managers attended each meeting.

Information on IPM and our commitment to sustainable grape growing was also shared with the non-farming community through the IPM ~ieldD ay and presentations to civic groups such as Rotary Clubs and to high school students. 

Articles announcing and describing the Western Region SARE Grant for the SCGGA IPM Project have appeared in the SCGGA Newsletter (Appendix # 12), the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, The Healdsburg Tribune/ Windsor Times, The Sonoma-Marin Farm News, the Sonoma Index Tribune, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the Sonoma West Times & News, the Cloverdale Reveille (Appendices # 15a & 15b), the four major appellation newsletters, the North Bay Business Journal and on the SCGGA Website. (Appendix # 5) These communication efforts insure that the objectives and results of our IPM and organic programs are shared beyond those who attend our monthly grower meetings and field days.

Education and Outreach Outcomes

Recommendations for education and outreach:

Potential Contributions

The greatest impacts of the IPM program are increasing use of pest monitoring results and
increasing tolerance for uneconomic pest levels, e.g. weeds, insects or mites. The monthly
grower meetings are attended by over 10% of Sonoma County's 963 grape growers (MKF
Research - Economic Impact of California Wine 2004). We have also increased awareness
about reduced risk alternatives, particularly to pesticides under FQPA review. Data on pesticide use (CA PURR data) show 28% reductions in lbs applied (over 1 million lbs) from 1997 - 2002 while grape acres increased 49%. Pesticides under FQPA review decreased 35% in lbs used and 24% in acres treated from 1999 to 2002. Grape acres increased 16% over the same period.

These decreases in pesticide usage resulted in considerable savings (likely over $10 million) due to fewer pesticide purchases and fewer applications, especially for miticides, insecticides and fungicides. Pre-emergence herbicide lbs. applied and treated acres, i.e. Simazine and Goal@, were nearly flat from 1999-2002. The cost effectiveness of these weed control products compared to alternative weed control practices surely contributed to our lack of progress in decreasing pre-emergent herbicide use. We do encourage growers to narrow the treatment strip in the vine row and to use pre-emergence herbicides every 2 or 3 years in order to decrease their use. 

The IPM program does not likely result in increased yields, but does contribute to increased
grape quality, a critical element of premium wine production. This has economic impact for
growers. County average grape prices were $1947/ton in 2003, while the California state
average was $47 llton. 

Sonoma County growers are decreasing pesticide usage and are selecting pesticides with fewer environmental impacts. In addition, regular testing of water quality in the Russian River has not detected pesticides used in grape production. Grower commitments to environmental stewardship and sustainable grape production are evidenced by their participation in the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices. Over 200 growers who farm nearly 15,000 acres (25% of Sonoma County total acreage) have completed and submitted self-assessments of their farming practices for inclusion in the statewide report. Clearly growers are interested in sustainable grape production, which will benefit their farming operations, the environment and the community.

We are concerned that insecticide use will be increasing due to the spread of Vine Mealybug
(VMB) in Sonoma County. This exotic pest has been found in 12 vineyards (spring 2004 data) and more infested vineyards are expected to be found. This aggressive pest can weaken vines and reduce grape quality due to its feeding and honeydew secretions. Lorsbanm and dimethoate applications are required to suppress VMB infestations and reduce economic losses. Our challenge will be to develop effective IPM strategies for VMB that allow for biological control by natural or introduced predators, use of chitinase inhibitors to reduce organophosphate use, and develop new methods such as mating disruption to reduce insecticide use.

Organophosphate insecticide use to control VMB and the ants that tend the VMB must be done such that the least possible disruption of predator populations is achieved.

SCGGA's comprehensive IPM program is important to the local community as well as our
growers. Our vineyard neighbors are often afraid of pesticides, are concerned about farming impacts on the environment, and are largely ignorant of farming practices and regulations that are in place to protect workers, the environment and our neighbors themselves. Our IPM program, including the IPM Field Day where the public is invited, demonstrates our commitment to sustainable grape production. Grower participation in the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing (over 20% of growers have completed and submitted their self-assessments for inclusion in the statewide database) reinforces that commitment.

We feel the Sonoma County IPM program provides a significant return on grant monies invested (a total of $30,00O/yr, including $13,000 from Western Region SARE) because we include IPM and sustainable grape production as core values in our communications to growers and to the non-farm community. Communications are sustained throughout the year and include our IPM GAM and Field Days, newsletter articles, meeting notes and timely topics on our website, and publications that share program results outside Sonoma County.

Future Recommendations

Grower responses to our program format have been very positive. A critical aspect for success is growers' willingness to share their experiences and problems and to ask questions of each other.

This is done and results are effective in grower-to-grower education. (see photo #6) Two major elements of the program may contribute to this sharing. Firstly, the Demonstration Vineyard managers are recognized as leading growers and they set the tone by sharing their experiences in the vineyard. Secondly, Laura Breyer, PCA, leads the meetings such that questions and discussion are encouraged. Laura also stimulates discussion by relating problems she has seen in the Demonstration Vineyards or the other vineyards she monitors in her pest monitoring business. Western Region SARE funding allows us to contract for monitoring the Demonstration Vineyards and for leading the grower meetings. (See IPM Meeting notes Appendices # 8a & 8b)

This program is overseen by the Sustainable Practices Committee of SCGGA, which is made up of growers and vineyard managers, UC Cooperative Extension specialists, Laura Breyer and
SCGGA staff, (Appendix # 6). UCCE Viticulture Farm Advisor and UCCE IPM Specialist also often participate in grower meetings. Their involvement insures the technical information shared is research based. The program also allows the UCCE information to be shared with 100 growers and vineyard managers each month. The monthly grower-meeting format results in efficient dissemination of UCCE information to growers.

Success Stories

No participants
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.