July 2019
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

The meadow and vineyard at Anthony Road Wine Co., a stop on the Nelson Shaulis Symposium field tour
On July 19, in Geneva, NY, NGRA held our Mid-Year Board Meeting following the fantastic annual conference the American Society of Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section and Nelson J. Shaulis Symposium on Digital Viticulture. Between the conference, symposium and meeting, it was a banner week for grape research! See a writeup of the symposium in Growing Produce, and read on for highlights from our very productive meeting.
In This Issue
NGRA gathers our Board of Directors three times a year to address organizational business and to ensure our research mission is well-served. As part of the administrative agenda for this mid-year meeting, board members discussed a new approach to development, designed to both grow the organization and inform our research program. Beginning next year, NGRA will seek to encourage state and regional organizations to create research committees and/or align with the research programs of states that already have them, ensuring their needs inform our research priorities. We also discussed revising our membership structure to enable prospective members to join NGRA without committing to board participation, and science-minded service providers and academic institutions to join as affiliate members. These changes (and others) are part of an update of our bylaws, under way now through the end of the year, intended to better reflect the ways NGRA operates today and provide for greater growth and member involvement, now and into the future.
Since research is at the heart of what we do, our meetings always include a robust research agenda. This time, along with many other reports, we received updates on exciting new projects initiated via our Research Committee process:
  • Dr. Matt Clark of the University of Minnesota shared an overview of the project he's spearheading, championed by NGRA's Genetics and Grapevine Improvement Research Theme Committee, called "Functional Genomics for Insect Pest Resistance," focusing on vine mealybug and foliar phylloxera.
  • Dr. Tom Buckley of UC Davis presented the project, "Evaluating Plant Performance Models as a Tool to Guide Selection for Heat Tolerance in Grapevines," which emerged from our Natural Resources & Environment Research Theme Committee.
The teams behind each of these projects held NGRA-funded planning meetings in May and June, and will be seeking grant funding this cycle. A third project, "High-Resolution Grape and Grapevine Nutrient Management Tools," proposed by the Integrated Production Systems Research Theme Committee and led by WSU's Dr. Markus Keller, will hold a planning meeting next month.
Board members also were blown away by a progress report on the NGRA-supported VitisGen2 project, delivered by co-PI Dr. Lance Cadle-Davidson (USDA-ARS, Geneva) . And guest presenter Dr. Moira Sheehan shared an overview of the new Breeding Insight program. Scroll down to the Research Focus section for highlights from these speakers.

It was a high-powered meeting, owing not only to the content but to the quality of the participation and collaboration of the board directors around the table (literal and virtual), who represent wine, juice, table and raisin grapes and growing regions across the U.S. We accomplished a lot on July 19, and laid the groundwork for more progress to come!
Donnell Brown
NGRA has doubled our social media presence! You can now follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook, our primary platform where we post research-related news and information six days a week.
NGRA is partnering with our colleagues at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to get an objective, science-based perspective on the state of sensors today. Together, we created the NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop where 30 speakers-scientists from ARS and other academic institutions-will present their work developing sensor technologies for vine status and irrigation management, and pests and diseases. The day-long agenda also includes discussion of the data integration and modeling applications that translate sensor outputs into usable information. And a grower panel will present their experiences implementing these technologies, reporting on their successes and reflecting on what they've learned. The event will take place November 13 in Sacramento, and tickets are available now. (Note: We only have space for 200 people, so secure your ticket asap!)
This month, the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rejected a long-contested petition to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos , a.k.a. Lorsban. The EPA says that data demonstrating the reported health effects is "not sufficiently valid, complete or reliable." Hawaii, California and New York have moved to ban the substance in a phased approach.
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee on June 4 approved the  Fiscal Year 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill  that includes $1.5 million in research funding to address issues related to smoke-exposed winegrapes. NGRA Board member John Aguirre, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, explains that CAWG and other industry organizations from California, Oregon and Washington originally requested $5 million for smoke exposure research. These groups will continue to push for the full $5 million, he says, as the U.S. Senate works on its bill to fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies.
Dr. Timothy Martinson, senior extension associate at Cornell University, was awarded the ASEV-Eastern Section Outstanding Achievement Award at the organization's annual conference this month. Tim has served as senior extension agent, responsible for statewide viticulture extension, since 2007. He helped to develop New York's VineBalance sustainable viticulture program and the New York Guide to Sustainable Viticulture Practices Grower Self-Assessment Workbook. He edits the Veraison to Harvest weekly newsletter, published annually from late August through early November, as well as
Appellation Cornell, a quarterly online publication that features news about the university's viticulture and enology research, extension and teaching programs. And he's served as the extension team lead for such noteworthy projects as the Northern Grapes Project and VitisGen2. In presenting the award, ASEV-ES Chair Dr. Chris Gerling noted that Tim's motto is "share the credit, take the blame." We love that! Congratulations, Tim!
The two journals published by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture--the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV) and  Catalyst: Discovery into Practice --now offer  media scores for their published articles via a new service, called Altmetric. It enables authors to determine the impact and reach their articles achieve beyond traditional literature citations and to understand which media (including social media) generate the most buzz for their research. The Altmetric data available for the journal articles allows readers and authors to see the attention each article is receiving in real-time and to explore and engage in the conversations surrounding the content.
Also, Catalyst, which of the two journals, is more focused on applied topics relevant to an industry audience, now offers video content-perfect for step-by-step, how-to-type tutorials and other subjects where a moving picture is worth a thousand words. The research on  Argentine ant eradication by University of California Cooperative Extension agent Dr. Monica Cooper, featured in last month's NGRA newsletter, is a great example of the utility of this new capability.
The comment period for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)  new SECURE rule closes August 5. Drafted to guide the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of genetically engineered organisms and reduce the regulatory burden for developers of GE organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks, the proposed rule is intended to modernize the department's biotechnology regulations with a balanced approach that continues to protect plant health while promoting agricultural innovation. Submit comments here.

At the NGRA Mid-Year Meeting (see top story above), two guest speakers gave separate but related and similarly inspiring reports about advances to the state of grape genetics in New York, where both are based, and across the greater American grape and wine industry. Here, we hit the high points:
Breeding Insight
Dr. Moira Sheehan leads   Breeding Insight, which was formed in late 2018 and launched in earnest with her hiring in January 2019. A partnership between the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Cornell University, Breeding Insight seeks to bring the sophistication of private breeding programs--rapid genotyping, robust phenotyping and advanced data tools and analytics--to the federally funded breeding programs at ARS and at public institutions nationwide. It is based on Cornell's Ithaca campus.
Breeding Insight will be creating an interface for breeders, Moira explained, enabling the capture and catalog of genetic data (historical and real-time), like the markers identified via  Vitis Gen (see below), and ensuring that the various databases that the international breeding community uses today (e.g., Vitisbase and  Field Book) can speak to one another. Once they're fully field-ready in/by 2021, Moira and her team plans to offer workshops to public breeders on the use of these tools.
Why this matters to us is, happily, grapes are included as one of the five pilot species.  We are excited about the ways in which Breeding Insight will spur collaboration and speed innovation across the global agricultural breeding community, and honored that grape was chosen as part of the launch.
Vitis Gen2
In his presentation, Dr. Lance Cadle-Davidson (USDA-ARS, Geneva), co-PI for   VitisGen2, wowed the NGRA board with the tremendous progress the team has made. The VG2 project is mid-year through its four-year SCRI grant, focusing on marker-assisted selection for the breeding of grapevines with resistance to powdery mildew   and  high fruit quality.
Among the advances Lance, lead PI Dr. Bruce Reisch (Cornell) and the team have made, one of the most significant is the great strides in gene sequencing it's made using the new rhAmpSeq technology from Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT). Because rhAmpSeq is based on AmpSeq, a sequencing innovation from VG1, VG2 was invited to trial the tech. In its beta testing, rhAmpSeq greatly accelerated the speed and accuracy of VG2 sequencing efforts, enabling the team to identify 2,415 markers covering 99% of the genome (vs. 1,449 markers ID'ed in VG1 covering 95% of the genome) for higher resolution tracking of powdery mildew and fruit quality. IDT made rhAmpSeq commercially available in March 2019, based in large part on the strength of its performance in VG2 with its internationally recognized scientific team. (Read more in our   March newsletter.)
The VG2 team also has nearly perfected genome-enabled flower sex prediction. The team applied the new VG2 markers to the immense diversity of grapes in the Geneva grape repository to predict the sex of the flowers each vine would produce, achieving unprecedented prediction accuracy of 96% (vs. 29% to 77% for markers developed in VG1 and other studies). In the grape-breeding world, where flower sex is a critical piece of information, this is a very big deal.
NGRA has been a proud participant in and supporter of VG1 and VG2, and are humbled to be associated with such rockstar scientists. In their work to understand powdery mildew, they are uncovering many additional pieces of the grape-genome puzzle.   We look forward to all the team will achieve.

July 24, 2019 | Growing Produce
UC Davis Smart Farm champion David Slaughter says ag's next big revolution won't be a precision tool, connected system or promising new genetic discovery, but rather the transition from a high-labor, manual workforce to more of a digital technology operator skill set.

July 23, 2019 | LA Times
Table grapes have mostly been bred to be sweet and seedless, juicy and crisp, but relatively neutral, flavor-wise. Now, a new crop of grape breeders are beginning to introduce "flavored grapes" that taste like strawberry, lollipop and cotton candy.
July 22, 2019 | Growing Produce
Last week's Nelson Shaulis Symposium on digital viticulture, co-located with the American Society for Enology & Viticulture - Eastern Section conference, covered everything from drones to decision support systems. It highlighted mechanization as at Mercer Ranches Inc. and variable rate management as proposed by the EfficientVineyard project. And it set the stage for the NGRA-ARS 2019 Sensor Technology Workshop in November!
July 19, 2019 | National Science Foundation
Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a new computer model for calculating the water content of snowpacks, providing an important tool for water resource managers and scientists.

July 17, 2019 | WSYR-TV
The  USDA 's Grape Genetics Research Unit and germplasm repository in Geneva, NY, take a star turn in this TV spot.  Cornell' s Dr.  Bruce Reisch  calls the grape collection "Noah's ark." He adds, "It's a living collection of grape diversity from around the world. (It's) my candy store. When I'm shopping for (genetic) traits that would be useful in NY and beyond, they're out here."
July 12, 2019 | Wine Australia
Can magnets remove methoxypyrazines from wine. Apparently, yes, thanks to nanotechnology.
July 11, 2019 | Vitisphere
Ampelographer Jean-Michel Boursiquot identified one of Chenin Blanc's two parents as Savagnin in 2015. Last week, he revealed the second: Sauvignonasse (a.k.a. Sauvignon Vert, Blanc Doux, Cinquien and Friulano). The parentage makes Sylvaner, Sauvignon Blanc and Petit Manseng Chenin's half-brothers (or sisters).
July 10, 2019 | Market Watch
A single cluster of table grapes sold this month for $11,000 in Japan, where the "luxury fruit" market includes square watermelons and white strawberries.
July 10, 2019 | Western Farm Press
The beautiful but voracious spotted lanternfly doesn't fly well, but it can hitchhike expertly. Experts say it will be headed west, where a wide range of host plants can usher the scourge into vineyards. Cue the "Jaws" soundtrack...
July 10, 2019 | Decanter
Seven grape varieties are awaiting final approval for use in Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur appellation wines. According to the appellation guidelines, if approved, these 4 reds and 3 whites would only be allowed to comprise 5% of a producer's vineyard area and 10% of the final blend. Collectively, their super-power is resistance to various diseases.
July 9, 2019 | Observer
An innovative new grant program in New York incents Concord growers to remove poor-producing or diseased vines and replace them with another agricultural commodity or a new Concord vineyard. The goal is to remove disease inoculum and keep commercial vineyards clean.

July 8, 2019  | Grand Forks Herald
Northland Community & Technical College in Minnesota is the site of the new NSF-funded National Center for Autonomous Technologies. It aims to serve the national need for developing and maintaining a skilled technical workforce in the field of autonomous technologies. Workers to operate drones and autonomous tractors? This Center has them covered.
July 5, 2019 | The Scientist
Are your grapevines judging you? Some biologists believe plants have cognitive abilities. But new research says plants don't pass the cognition test.
July 3, 2019 | Wine Business Monthly
Beta testing is under way in California vineyards for a promising new sensor: a micro-tensiometer developed by a team of scientists at Cornell University, to measure grapevine water status to efficiently manage vineyard irrigation. If trials are successful, it could be introduced to the grower market in 2020.
July 2, 2019 | Growing Produce
George Zhuang, University of California Cooperative Extension Viticulture Advisor in Fresno County, is working to help grape growers tackle the tough task of mechanical pruning. The goal is to help vineyard managers save money (an estimated 90% cost savings over hand-pruning) and also achieve the holy grail of the "no-touch vineyard." He's close!
July 2, 2019 | Stuff
NZ Wine's Bragato Research Institute has designed "world-first" test tanks, trialed during this year's vintage. Designed for dual purpose, they can hold 200 liters of wine for a single fermentation and have four 17-liter tanks for individual fermentations under the same conditions. The Institute debuted six this season and plans to deploy 84 more tanks next vintage. All are intended for industry use.
June 26, 2019 | NSF
New National Science Foundation-supported research led by University of Utah biologists William Anderegg, Anna Trugman and David Bowling finds that plants and trees can use precious soil water to cool themselves and, in the process, make droughts more intense.
June 26, 2019 | Cornell University
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $1.8M to two Cornell University projects. One seeks to improve the commercial viability of a new food packaging material that reduces the need for preservatives while decreasing food waste. The other focuses on preserving the fresh taste in juice concentrates, using cold press technologies vs. heat, which alters nutrition and taste, all in energy-efficient way.
June 21, 2019 | KSMU
Missouri State University's Center for Grapevine Biotechnology at the MSU Fruit Experiment Station has been working on crossing the state's red grape, Norton, with Cabernet Sauvignon, seeking to develop a hybrid that leverages the taste of Cab with Norton's hardiness and disease-resistance. Here, MSU President Cliff Smart discusses the cutting-edge work.
May 28, 2019 | Wide Open Eats
Ever had a Cotton Candy table grape? They look like everyday green grapes, but they taste, well, exactly like cotton candy. They're a proprietary variety developed by California-based International Fruit Genetics, and their distinct flavor is a sweet example of traditional breeding. Look for them at your local market now--if they're not sold out!
February 23, 2019 | Journal of Economic Entomology
Failure of Mustang Maxx to kill fruit flies led a team of Cornell University scientists to find out what would. They found that only spinosad and spinetoram insecticides were effective.
Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.

August 15-16, 2019
North American Grape Breeders Meeting
Mountain Grove, MO

November 13, 2019
NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop
Sacramento, CA

November 14, 2019
NGRA End-of-Year Board Meeting
Sacramento, CA

November 26-28, 2019
Montpelier, France

February 3, 2020
Annual Meeting of the Members & First-of-Year Board Meeting
Sacramento, CA

July 12-17, 2020
International Cool Climate Wine Symposium 2020
Ontario, Canada

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.