Using canopy management to reduce fungicide use and improve fruit composition in white wine grapes

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $178,311.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel
Cornell University

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, value added
  • Production Systems: general crop production

    Proposal abstract:

    Our goal is to develop, demonstrate, and implement grower-identified practices in NY/Northwestern PA vineyards that reduce fungicide use and improve wine quality, resulting in increased economic returns to wine grape growers and decreased environmental impact. Through collaboration with our grower-partners, we will introduce low-cost practices (shoot thinning, leaf removal) with potential to increase fruit quality and reduce pesticide demand. We expect these practices to result in a more open canopy and improved air circulation, which in turn will reduce fungal pressure by decreasing the duration of wetness events, and improve penetration and efficacy of pesticides. Furthermore, we expect improved fruit composition resulting from optimized light interception by clusters. The project will consist of the following components: initial survey of grower practices; applied research comparing CM practices to control vines; on-farm demonstrations of each of the practices (also implemented in combination) compared to traditionally-managed canopies; on-farm workshops, newsletters, and other educational opportunities; and final project assessment to include a survey and interviews. This project is a collaborative effort among researchers, extension personnel, and local grape growers. Essential to the success of this project is the reputation of the grower implementation team - a group of respected growers who will provide guidance, demonstration sites, and testimonials regarding what works. They are forward-thinking growers with a strong interest in pursuing on-farm research and a willingness to share the results with their neighbors. By project's end, the 6-grower team will have implemented an integrated suite of CM practices and will have helped an additional 14 growers adopt at least 1 of those practices.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    20 of approximately 65 vinifera grape growers in NY/Northwestern PA will adopt at least one new canopy management (CM) practice to improve fruit composition and lower disease pressure, resulting in at least one less fungicide application per season and increased returns of at least $60 per acre in wet years, due to reduced fungicide inputs and improved fruit composition.

    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.