Development of Partnerships and Support for an Emerging Alternative Crop: Grapes in Northern New England
There is currently a lack of scientific research-based information and dissemination pathways from the northern New England Extension systems to grape-growers in the region. Information from scientific research is important to growers for making sound, informed decisions that allow their farms to be profitable, environmentally sustainable, and an asset to their communities. Our approach to addressing this lack of knowledge and solving the problems associated with the commercialization of a new crop is to assess the needs of Vermont grape-growers and address them, with our results having applications in the wider northern New England region. We view this project as the foundation for the development of an integrated research and outreach program that addresses the need for science-based information in the cultivation and management of this alternative crop in cold regions, and that utilizes growers’ expertise to strengthen the industry.
Objective 1. Document growers’ experience in growing grapes in colder climates. We will work with Vermont growers who have established vineyards to create a database from which a profile of this emerging industry can be made.
Objective 2. Identify and quantify differences in performance of grape cultivars at various locations due to the microclimatic, cultural and pest management differences. We will work with four farm cooperators who will identify and select several grape cultivars that show the most promising qualities (adaptability, productivity, quality, disease resistance, etc.) We will collect data to quantify the horticultural performance and the pest resistance/susceptibility of some of the selected cultivars.
Objective 3. Development of an outreach program for grape growers in Northern New England. We will, design, develop and implement a high quality, comprehensive, and integrated outreach program that will address the needs for knowledge, information, technology transfer, and research for a new commodity. We will utilize various means of informantion transfer such as the World Wide Web, newsletter, bulletins and workshops.
The Vermont grape growers database that was created in 2004, with the results of a grower survey, has been updated to include new growers in 2005. The survey included information that profiled the emerging wine grape industry in Vermont and pinpointed areas of priority for research and technology transfer. Priorities included: cultivar performance and cold hardiness in Vermont, the development of an IPM program for grapes in Vermont, and cultural practices for cold climate grape growing.
The University of Vermont Cold Climate Grape Production web page, http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/, has been created. It is available to grape growers or prospective growers in Vermont and the region, state and government agency representatives, and other interested parties. It contains a primer on integrated pest management, links to newsletters and growing season observations from the field. There is an extensive list of links to web pages of industry resources and university and extension information regarding grape production. During the past growing season, the web page posted weekly accumulation of growing degree days from various locations in Vermont. Two installations of Vinewatch were posted on the Cold Climate Grape Production page in 2005. Vinewatch is a collection of current observations pertinent to disease and pest management. Vinewatch includes high quality photographs of specific diseases, insects, and physiological conditions that aid in the diagnoses of these conditions.
Data were collected on bud survival after winter low temperatures of selected cultivars at the cooperating vineyards in 2005. Differences in bud survival were found between cultivars. Preliminary data on bud survival indicate that at Vineyard 1, ‘St. Croix’ and ‘Frontenac’ had higher bud survival than ‘Leon Millot’. It is important to note that ‘Leon Millot’ was severely diseased at Vineyard 1 which may have weakened the vines. At Vineyard 2, an early winter difference in bud survival between ‘Frontenac’ and ‘Louise Swenson’ existed, with ‘Frontenac’ exhibiting higher survival. The other cultivars, ‘La Crescent’, ‘St. Croix’, and ‘Prairie Star’ did not differ in bud survival from ‘Frontenac’. At Vineyard 3, ‘Arctic Riesling’ had higher bud survival than ‘Traminette’, ‘Riesling’, and ‘Vidal’. ‘Traminette’ also exhibited higher bud survival than ‘Vidal’ at Vineyard 3. At Vineyard 4, ‘Leon Millot’ exhibited the highest bud survival. ‘Vignoles’ and ‘Vidal’ did not differ from each other, and ‘Riesling’ had lower bud survival than ‘Leon Millot’ and ‘Vignoles’.
Data were collected on yield per vine, average cluster size, average berry size, soluble solids content, and pH of the targeted grape cultivars in 2005. The data are currently being statistically analyzed. This was the second year that the data was collected.
Vine growth was monitored during the 2005 growing season and the dates that target cultivars reached specific phenological stages were recorded and posted on the Cold Climate Viticulture web page.
Grape berry moth populations were monitored in each vineyard during the 2005 growing season and data were posted on the Cold Climate Viticulture web page. Additionally, an in-depth assessment of grape berry moth and leafhopper infestation, as part of an IPM system, was conducted at each vineyard in July and in August following the protocol of Cornell. Results of individual vineyards were communicated to growers.
Disease incidence and severity were rated for the target cultivars at each vineyard in September of 2005. A report arising from 2004 research entitled “Evaluation of disease susceptibility of two `new’ cold-hardy wine grapes, 2004”, was published in Biological and Cultural Tests for Control of Plant Disease. Vol. 20. Differences in disease incidence and severity of the cultivars ‘Reisling’, ‘Leon Millot’, ‘St. Croix’, and ‘Frontenac’ at Vineyard 1 were compared in this document.
A Cold Climate Grape Management workshop for Vermont and regional growers was held on March 29, 2005 at the UVM Horticultural Research Center. Speakers included Mark Chien, Pennsylvania Extension Agent for viticulture, who presented on canopy and crop management; Dr. Lorraine Berkett of the University of Vermont who presented on disease and pest management in wine grapes, and Dr. Anne Hazelrigg of the University of Vermont who presented on pesticide safety and certification. The workshop included a field component held at Lincoln Peak Vineyard during which Marc Chien demonstrated pruning techniques. The workshop was attended by 32 people and 5 additional people were not able to attend due to space limitations.
The second newsletter, Cold Climate Grape IPM News, was published in May. It includes information on the implications of growing degree days in pest management, the critical times to scout for pests and diseases in the vineyard, disease management options, technical information on spraying equipment, and pesticide safety tips. It also includes brief disease descriptions.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Information on the emerging wine grape industry in Vermont has been compiled in the form of a grape growers database and is used in targeting research projects and developing extension education and outreach activities. Information from the database was used in developing the program for the Cold Climate Grape Production workshop. Current SARE project research has opened the door to participation in other research projects that address the emerging crop of wine grapes in Vermont. For example, we are now participants in a nation-wide grape cultivar adaptability study.
Information from research on cultivar adaptability, performance, and disease/pest susceptibility will be made available to Vermont growers through the UVM Apple/Grape Research and Extension outreach venues and published in peer-reviewed journals for the wider viticulture community. This information will be applied practically in the selection of cultivars for new wine grape plantings in Vermont, and will be used to identify areas in need of further research.
The Cold Climate Grape Production workshop gave grape growers valuable knowledge in the concepts of canopy management as well as practical demonstrations of how to achieve this. The result has been improved canopy management, which has positive impact on fruit quality, disease reduction, and cold hardiness. Growers have used information from the workshop to solve problems related to overly vigorous vines. Growers have used pest assessments in their IPM programs for making decisions about management.
Visits to the cooperators’ vineyards have developed strong partnerships between grape growers and extension personnel. Vineyard visits have helped meet the needs of grape growers for technical assistance on topics such as new vineyard site preparation, disease and insect pest management, and nutrient management. For example, a new grower was planning to apply manure fertilizer to the site of a new vineyard despite the results of a soil test that suggested adequate soil nutrients.
The SARE partnership grant has allowed valuable scientific research with practical applications and immediate importance to take place. The grant has been instrumental in the development of valuable partnerships between growers, industry, and university/extension personnel. So far, the partnership has been a productive collaboration that has resulted in the start of a comprehensive research and outreach program for the development of cold climate grape production in northern New England.
70 Pierson St
Shelburne, vt 05482
Office Phone: 8027341386
Lincon Peak Vineyard and Nursery
262 River Rd
New Haven, VT 05472
Office Phone: 8023887368
409 West St
Rutland, Vt 05701
Office Phone: 8027737966
Snow Farm Vineyard
190 West Shore Rd
South Hero, VT 05486
Office Phone: 8023729463
Extension Horticulture Specialist – Fruits
University of Arkansas
310 Plant Sciences Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Office Phone: 4795752790