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.
Objective 2. Identify and quantify differences in horticultural performance of grape cultivars at various locations.
Objective 3. Development of an outreach program for grape growers in Northern New England.. We will utilize various means of information transfer such as a website, electronic newsletter, bulletins, one-on-one exchange, and a workshop.
The Vermont grape growers database that was originally created in 2004 with the results of a grower survey has been updated to include new growers in 2006.
The University of Vermont Cold Climate Grape Production web page, http://pss.uvm.edu/grap/, was further developed. 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 (http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/2006DDAccumulationGrape.html ). Eight issues of the Cold Climate Grape Production newsletter were written and posted on the Cold Climate Grape Production website (http://pss.uvm.edu/grape/newsletters/ ) in 2006. In addition, three issues of Vinewatch were published on the website. 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.
Research data on horticultural performance of select wine grape cultivars at four commercial vineyards were summarized and presented in a Master Thesis by Ms. Marlys E. Eddy. Yield per vine, cluster weight, berry weight, soluble solids concentration, and pH were measured on a total of nine grapevine cultivars across four vineyards during the previous two growing seasons. Analysis of data showed that the cultivars ‘Arctic Riesling’, ‘Leon Millot’, ‘Frontenac’, ‘La Crescent’, and ‘Prairie Star’ were above the minimum levels for commercial winemaking for the parameters, yield, soluble solids content, and pH, in at least one location during at least one year of the study. The cultivar ‘Traminette’ had yield and soluble solids that were above minimum levels, but the pH was below the minimum level for winemaking in this study. It was found that the soluble solids content and yield of ‘St. Croix’ were below minimum levels expected in commercial production. The cultivar ‘Vignoles’ had soluble solids content and pH within the desirable range for winemaking, but yield was below commercially viable levels. The cultivar ‘Riesling’ did not reach minimum levels for commercial wine production in yield, soluble solids content, or pH over the course of the study. However, it must be stressed that factors such as winter injury, disease, and nutrient imbalances probably had impacted the yield and/or fruit quality of many of these cultivars and better performance is expected with better management and experience.
A Cold Climate Grape Vineyard Tour and Workshop was conducted at Champlain Valley Vineyard, Benson, Vermont on September 8, 2006. Approximately 30 people participated and highly rated the educational value of the event.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Information on the emerging wine grape industry in Vermont has been and is being used in targeting research projects and developing extension education and outreach activities. The current SARE project has opened the door to participation in other projects that address the emerging wine grape crop in Vermont. For example, we are now participants in a nation-wide grape cultivar evaluation study.
Information from research on cultivar adaptability, performance, and disease/pest susceptibility is being made available to current and prospective growers through outreach venues and published in peer-reviewed journals for the wider viticulture community. This information will have practical application in the selection of cultivars for new wine grape plantings and in the development of management programs by growers in this cold climate region, and will be used to identify areas for further research.
The Cold Climate Vineyard Tour and Workshop gave grape growers valuable horticultural and pest management knowledge as well as practical demonstrations on an actual commercial vineyard. All of the surveyed participants (100%) said they will use the information they gained at the Tour and Workshop in their own vineyard.
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