Targeted thermal protection for fruiting zone in a vineyard

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2017: $14,952.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Heart & Hands Wine Company
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Tom Higgins
Heart & Hands Wine Company


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: Winter Tolerance

    Proposal summary:

    Our proposal is to use a targeted, dual-component thermal system to protect against extreme cold
    temperatures and reduce bud mortality in grapevines. The first component is an electrical heat wire
    which is installed along the fruit wire of the vine. The second component is tube insulation that will
    enclose both the fruit canes and the heating wire. A temperature monitor will activate the heating
    wire during extreme cold events. The combination of the wire and the insulation should provide
    much-needed protection from the extreme cold temperatures that can damage or kill a vine.
    Because the heat wire remains in place year-round, the only labor that the grower will have to
    undertake after initial setup is the annual installation and removal of the insulation. This is a
    significant labor and cost savings as compared to other cold protection alternatives of burying vines
    under the soil, wind fans, or burning debris on cold nights.

    We envision that in addition to grapevines, this solution may also work for other trellised fruit that
    has cold-sensitive buds (e.g. apples, nectarines, and peaches). We plan to demonstrate our
    application to other grape growers in the Finger Lakes, and potentially at regional viticulture
    conferences. We also intend to make a YouTube video to easily allow other growers outside our
    region to understand the technology, and how it could be used on their farms.
    We're excited to pioneer this system that we believe will be much more sustainable, effective, and
    efficient than the current alternatives.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our proposal is to install electrical heat wire and insulation along the fruit zone of the vine to create
    a targeted zone of heat. The temperature inside the insulation will be monitored with a digital
    thermostat, and the system will be activated and provide heat when the temperature drops below a
    threshold. The insulation will be used to contain the warmth within the fruit-zone. Additionally, in
    the spring, when the insulation is removed for the growing season, the heat wire alone may be
    sufficient enough to provide protection from an early frost. While our pilot is targeted to grape vines, we envision that this system could also be used for other trellised fruit, including apples, pears, and stone fruit.

    Our objective is to use the system described above to automatically warm the fruiting zone when
    temperatures are below a threshold to ensure that the primary buds survive and provide a full yield
    of fruit, as compared to a control.

    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.