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

2011 Annual Report for LNE09-289

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:

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

Summary

During the third year of the project, at least 15 wine grape growers experimented with shoot thinning and/or leaf removal on their white wine grapes. Data was collected by the project team and by growers at some of the grower side-by-side comparison sites, and for the third year in the replicated study. The results of the first two years of the study, including an analysis of consumer willingness-to-pay for wines produced from the shoot thinning and/or leaf removal treatments was presented to approximately 300 growers at the Finger Lakes Grape Grower Meeting.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Twenty of approximately 65 vinifera grape growers in NY/Northwestern PA will adopt at least one new canopy management 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.

Accomplishments/Milestones

1) 50 growers attend 1 of 2 spring meetings (one in Finger Lakes, one in Lake Erie) to learn about impact of canopy management (CM) practices on fruit composition and disease management. Participants will discuss their goals in winegrape production, experience with CM, and how these practices might help them. May 2009. This milestone was met in May 2009 with 40 growers attending 1 of 2 spring meetings (25 growers in Finger Lakes, 15 growers in Lake Erie) about CM. Total growers in attendance was lower than we had hoped, potentially due to the fact that both meetings were held on days of favorable weather for field work in a season when few of those days existed.

2) 35 growers attend 1 of 2 field tours (one in each region) at a research/demonstration site. Grower implementation team demonstrates impact of CM on cluster light exposure and spray penetration. August 2009. This milestone was met in August 2009 when 42 growers attended a tour of the replicated CM study at White Springs vineyard in the Finger Lakes region. We were pleased that we had excellent grower turnout at the meeting due to strong interest in the information presented. At the meeting growers participated in an informal survey of CM practices, indicating that 14% (6 of 42) of growers practiced leaf removal or shoot thinning on their Riesling vines. Unfortunately due to a frost event early in the season in the Lake Erie region we were unable to maintain our grower sites (primary shoots killed by early frost), and as a result could not host a meeting in the Lake Erie region.

3) 30 growers attend 1 of 2 tastings (one in each region) to sample wines from grower CM research/demonstration sites, estimate price points of wines for use in economic analyses. Growers provide testimony about their experiences with CM the previous year, evaluate whether their goals were met, and discuss similarities/differences in results among sites. June 2010. This milestone was met in August 2010, when 34 growers (25 in Finger Lakes region, 9 in Lake Erie) attended tastings, sampled wines from grower demonstration sites, and estimated price points for use in the economic analysis. We combined the meeting for this milestone with that for milestone #4, and presented economic analyses based on the 2009 data from grower sites. A large proportion of growers were interested in testing CM practices based on wines tasted, we are currently working to get firm commitments from those growers.

4) 25 growers attend discussion of economic impact of CM practices, study data produced in collaboration with grower implementation team. Team members share economic analyses of practices at their sites. 20 participants agree to adopt at least one CM practice for next year; group discusses which practices might suit regions/sites. December 2010. This milestone was met in August 2010 as it was combined with Milestone #3 (see above).

In 2011, we know of at least 15 growers who experimented with a CM practice, and heard “through the grapevine” of at least 5 other growers who were experimenting but did not identify themselves to us.

Future milestone to be met: 5) 20 growers who adopted at least one new practice attend discussion to verify outcomes (improved wine quality, reduced fungicide use, improved economic returns) and share information concerning success of specific CM practices. Original date to meet this milestone was February 2012, however since the PI is currently on family leave, this milestone will be met later in the year (likely by September).

In March 2011, we reached 300 industry members through a 90-minute presentation at the Finger Lakes Grape Grower meeting, where we presented yield, fruit quality, wine quality, and consumer willingness-to-pay data for wines produced using these practices. Industry members were given an electronic copy of all data presented.

We further reached 600 industry members through our Veraison to Harvest newsletters, which can be found here: http://grapesandwine.cals.cornell.edu/cals/grapesandwine/veraison-to-harvest/index.cfm. In each issue in 2011, we published fruit chemistry for grower side-by-side comparisons of CM practices on Riesling.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Our target is to have 20 of approximately 65 vinifera grape growers in NY/Northweatern PA 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.

In the first three years of our project, 5 grower-cooperators implemented at least one new CM practice and have shown strong interest in continuing with the CM practices. Grower interest in our studies have been extremely strong, with 42 growers participating in field tours, and 34 growers in wine tastings followed by price point estimations for wines made from CM treatments.

In 2011 at least 15 growers experimented with the CM practices, and 300 industry members (winemakers and growers) learned about the results of the first two years of the replicated study at an industry meeting. There is a tremendous amount of interested in these practices, as our data indicated that if consumers were told prior to tasting the wine that shoot thinning and/or leaf removal could reduce fungicide use, they were willing to pay up to $1.50 more per bottle of wine produced using those practices. (Unfortunately once they tasted the wine, that price premium disappeared!).

Approximately 600 industry members had the opportunity to read summaries of our projects and followed fruit chemistry of Riesling during ripening in some of our grower side-by-side comparisons through the Veraison to Harvest newsletters.

Collaborators:

Wayne Wilcox

wfw1@cornell.edu
Professor
Cornell University
Geneva, NY 14456
Office Phone: 3157872335
Tim Martinson

tem2@cornell.edu
Senior Extension Associate
Cornell University
Geneva, NY 14456
Office Phone: 3157872448
Gavin Sacks

gls9@cornell.edu
Assistant Professor
Cornell University
Geneva, NY 14456
Office Phone: 3157872458
Todd Schmit

tms1@cornell.edu
Assistant Professor
Cornell University
Ithaca , NY 14853
Office Phone: 6072553015