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

Franka Gabler and Jerry Lohr at the National Science Foundation
On May 23 and 24, members of the National Grape Research Alliance Board of Directors traveled to Washington, DC, to visit with administrators of federal agencies that play a role in grape research and funding. With some, like the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS), NGRA has a strong, longstanding relationship. With others, like the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), our goal for this first-ever "Delegation to DC" was to begin one!
In This Issue
Over the course of two busy days, we traveled from Washington, DC, to Alexandria, VA, to Beltsville, MD, and back again to meet with nearly two dozen top research professionals. What did we talk about? Here's a snapshot: 
  • USDA-NIFA - The agency's impending move from DC (see related story below), efforts to remove the newly reinstated matching requirements for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, funding opportunities through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and other NIFA programs
  • USDA-ARS - Progress toward establishing the new water research unit in California and research results that will give the unit momentum once established, new appropriations for the Grape Genetics Research Unit in New York, our joint Sensor Technology Workshop (see save-the-date below), and new staff introductions and the agency's surge in hiring (see related item below)
  • FFAR (pronounced "far") - The "white spaces and gaps" and intractable and fast-emerging research needs this agency funds through programs like Crops of the Future, Sustainable Water Management, Rapid Outcomes from Agriculture Research and more.
  • NSF - The agency's grant programs within its directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Biological Sciences (including the Plant Genome Research Program), and Education and Human Resources as well as partnership opportunities like the exciting new Convergence Accelerator Pilot targeting the creation of an open knowledge network, and AI and future jobs.
In short, we came away with food for thought regarding research programs, projects and funding opportunities in place to help advance scientific breakthroughs for grape.

Many thanks to these NGRA representatives for making the most of this whirlwind tour of these important agencies: John Aguirre (California Association of Winegrape Growers), Jim Anderson (Missouri Wine & Grape Board), Michele Famiglietti (Wine Institute), Franka Gabler (California Table Grape Commission), Ben Jordan (Virginia Wine Board), Jerry Lohr (J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines), John Martini (Anthony Road Wine Company), Emily Pelton (Virginia Wine Board), Vicky Scharlau (Washington Winegrowers), Tom Smith (E. & J. Gallo Winery) and Tony Stephen (American Vineyard Foundation). It was time well-spent and, hopefully, the beginning of a new annual tradition!
Donnell Brown
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service and the National Grape Research Alliance are partnering to produce our first-ever NGRA-ARS Sensor Technology Workshop to be held this fall. Principals from the wine, juice, table grape and raisin sectors will gather to hear from scientists from ARS and other research institutions about the sensor technologies that support grape-growing today (including the strengths and shortcomings of these offerings), what's in the research pipeline and what advances are on the horizon. Join us!

The event is Wednesday, November 13, in Sacramento, CA. Tickets are $150 for NGRA Board members and $250 for industry guests; registration opens June 7. Check out the packed agenda and be sure to save the date!
The scientists behind a research project funded by the European Union called LIFE-ADVICLIM (Adaptation of Viticulture to Climate Change) to consider the future of wine in a warming world have created a survey for winegrowers from 22 wine-producing countries. This survey was developed to not only acquire insights into winegrowers' perceptions about the changing environment, but also their priorities to adapt practices and techniques to its impacts. Understanding growers' needs and intentions toward climate change helps research and policy developments to better identify sustainable measures for the wine sector. 

Click here to participate!  This brief survey is anonymous, and all information shared will be used only  for scientific purposes. Study findings will be communicated back to NGRA and other participating institutions, and published in an appropriate research journal.
Research leader Etienne Neethling of France's École Supérieure d'Agricultures (ESA) says, "In France, we already have obtained nearly 400 responses, allowing us to clearly examine the differences that exist across as well as within regions. We are seeking a greater international vision and scientific overview of this issue of a changing global climate that is requiring the implementation of local and context-specific actions." Your participation in the survey will help.
This month, the State of California announced it would ban the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's Guidelines for Grape provides information on managing individual pests and includes alternatives to chlorpyrifos. Only ants and vine mealybugs are listed in the critical use category for chlorpyrifos, but only until the complete ban takes effect.
David L. King of King Family Vineyards, an advocate and champion of Virginia's wine industry, died May 2 after a long battle with cancer.  He was a strong advocate for the state's burgeoning wine industry and helped to lead the effort to pass the Virginia Farm Winery Act in 2007. He also served as chairman of the Virginia Wine Board, an NGRA member, from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2018. Our condolences to his wife Ellen and their family, and to the Virginia wine industry for the loss of a great leader. Read more about David's life and legacy.
Dr. Meryl Broussard, an architect of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, passed away on May 18. Until his passing, he was Associate Director of Programs at NIFA and will be remembered as a lifelong advocate for agricultural science. Dr. Parag Chitnis will be acting in his stead. Read more about Dr. Broussard.
USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) program for  Plant Protection and Quarantine is seeking industry volunteers to serve on teams dedicated to each of its seven goal areas: Analysis, Survey, Domestic Inspection, Pest Identification and Technology, Safeguarding Nursery, Outreach and Mitigation.  If interested in volunteering as an APHIS team member, reply to this email with the name of the team you'd like to help support.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue this month announced the top three prospective sites for the relocation of the NIFA and the Economic Research Service (ERS). They are: Indiana, a joint proposal with Purdue University, Indiana Economic Development Corporation and the State of Indiana; the Greater Kansas City Region of Kansas and Missouri; and the Research Triangle Region in North Carolina. The site is expected to be announced next month, though some members of Congress are still trying to block the move.
The Agricultural Research Service--the in-house research arm of the USDA--is hiring more than 1,000 new employees.  Browse the agency's posted job openings.

Rather than focus on a single research project this month, we thought we'd share three exciting science  outcomes that seemed to have everyone talking this month:

Fungus to Stop Spotted Lanternfly? Two  Cornell scientists have found that two local and unrelated fungal pathogens could potentially curb the spread of the spotted lanternfly. "The finding is important because these naturally occurring pathogens could be used to develop methods for more environmentally friendly control of this damaging invader," said Dr. Ann Hajek, co-author of the s tudy with  Eric Clifton, a postdoctoral researcher.

Wasp Vs. Spotted Lanternfly:  The destructive spotted lanternfly hasn't been found on the West Coast, but the California Department of Agriculture Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board isn't waiting till it is. It awarded $543,936 to a project named, "Proactive Biological Control of Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula ( Hemiptera: Fulgoridae)," piggybacking on work already being done in the eastern US and abroad. The bio-control agent is a small stingless wasp, native to China, that parasitizes the eggs of the pest. The work is co-led by  Dr. Mark Hoddle (UC Riverside) and Dr. Kent Daane (UC Berkeley).

UV Light Fights Powdery Mildew: Fungi have light-sensing systems that control their development, including one that repairs DNA damaged by exposure to UV light. But it turns out that powdery mildew fungi shut down this repair mechanism at night. Scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Cornell AgriTech and others are now working to exploit this weakness. They're exposing PM to a small amount of UV light at night, killing the pathogen without harming the host plants. The first commercial trial on grapevines is now underway at Bully Hill Vineyards in New York.

Congrats--and thank you--to the scientists leading these breakthroughs! We look forward to hearing more.
Following last month's demonstrations of variable-rate shoot thinning in California, Efficient Vineyard PI Dr. Terry Bates got lots of questions about how hand-thinning and mechanical-thinning differ. In this video from the April 23 demo, he illustrates the answer. Essentially, he says, one focuses on canopy management, the other is a crop-load management strategy. Take a look!

NSF Hosts Webinar for Funding Program for Tech Needs
Are you an early-career scientist with technical needs for your research beyond your current budget? Sign up for an informational webinar on June 12 to learn more about the National Science Foundation (NSF) Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate's Research Initiation Initiative. This innovative grant program may provide just the funding you need. Proposals will be due August 14.

AFRI RFA Issued for Basic and Applied Science Proposals
To advance  knowledge in both fundamental and applied sciences important to agriculture, the USDA 's  Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), administered by NIFA,  offers grants in these six priority areas: 
  • Plant Health and Production and Plant Products
  • Animal Health and Production and Animal Products
  • Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
  • Bioenergy, Natural Resources, and Environment
  • Agriculture Systems and Technology
  • Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities
Deadlines for applications vary by priority area, starting as soon as June 19. See the AFRI 
Request for Applications for complete details.

Funding Available for Extension Tech
The New Technologies for Ag Extension competitive grants program provides funding for projects that contribute to "Enhancing Electronic Extension (E3)," a national web-based information and education delivery system. E3 engages land-grant institutions and the Cooperative Extension Service to provide objective, scientific information to the public that answers questions and guides decisions. By creating web-based access to high-quality, non-duplicative, research-based information, E3 can help better serve the needs of the public seeking real-time information. Applications for this NIFA program are due June 6. Get complete details.

May 17, 2019 | Wine-Searcher
Australia's Yarra Valley is suffering a devastating outbreak of phylloxera. The region has historically not needed resistant American rootstocks, but now replant cost are estimated at $1 billion. "The upside is," says Mac Forbes of affected grower, Mac Forbes Wines, "with warmer and earlier seasons, replants are offering a chance to plant more suited varieties or clones."
May 16, 2019 | Vinepair
The two biggest appellations in Bordeaux-Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur-have been granted permission by the French government to do something that, until recently, was unthinkable: use non-Bordeaux grapes in their wines.
May 14, 2019 | Ensia
Grapevine shoots and spoiled juice could be turned into new forms of environmentally friendly packaging. As part of the GLOPACK project, researchers at the Université de Montpellier are using food and agriculture waste for the two key components of packaging that could someday replace plastics.
May 13, 2019 | Wine Enthusiast
The longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. stabilizes the climate in Michigan, where most vineyards are located within 25 miles of Lake Michigan. In fact, sustainability in the face of climate change is why some wine industry experts have warmed to Michigan.
May 13, 2019 |
Grape-growing and winemaking worldwide could look very different in the next 30 years as the planet accelerates toward a temperature crisis, 50 years earlier than expected. The consequences could trigger major stress in terms of world wine production and test the world socio-economic order. These were the findings of a study called Act for Change, presented at the first Vinexpo Symposium earlier this month.
May 12, 2019 | Tech Crunch
In early May, for the first time since life on Earth began, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere exceeded 415 parts per million, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Greenhouse gases help maintain a temperature that can sustain life, but too much can tip the Earth's energy budget out of balance.
May 6, 2019 | Washington State Wine
Might you be applying nematicide at the wrong time? Research funded by the Washington State Wine Commission, done by Michelle Moyer (WSU-IAREC) and Inga Zasada (USDA-ARS) suggests that some winegrowers may be.
May 5, 2019 | The Post-Journal
Jennifer Russo may be the new viticulture extension specialist at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory, but she's been making a difference there since last year, when as a new research technician with the Efficient Vineyard project, she helped to design the Cornell Grape Counter. The machine can count the berries in 50 clusters of grapes (3,000-5,000 grapes) in about 2 minutes with 99.5% accuracy--a fraction of the time (52 minutes) it takes a person--and without human error. The CGC helps decrease labor costs, increase accuracy and provide digitized data for crop estimation.
May 3, 2019 | Our Farms, Our Future
Take a listen to this podcast (the last in a series) from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education to learn about the importance of farmer participation in on-farm research. "Farmers are hard to convince. You have to get the farmer to do it himself to convince him that whatever you're testing is going to work," says Alan Sundermeier, an Extension educator at The Ohio State University.
May 2, 2019 | Michigan State University
Scientists at Michigan State University have developed a potential solution to powering wearable electronics. They've employed crumpled carbon nanotube (CNT) forests as highly stretchable supercapacitors that collect and store energy, even when stretched to 800% of its original size. The tech has room for improvement, they admit, but imagine applications in viticulture such as self-powered wearable sensors on gloves or goggles.
May 2, 2019 | The Hill
Agriculture is critical to the U.S. economy, accounting for nearly $1 trillion of our GDP and one in 10 jobs. Agricultural R&D funding has an estimated ROI of 20 to 1. But the federal government's support for agricultural research funding represents less than 2% of its total investment in R&D, compared to the 40% it was in 1940. By comparison, China invests nearly twice as much as the US in agricultural science, while U.S. investments barely keep pace with inflation.
May 2, 2019 | Good Fruit Grower
The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission is developing a new technology roadmap for innovations that would lower the cost of production and improve development and adoption of new technologies, focused on tree fruit production in the Pacific Northwest. It will spell out to entrepreneurs and R&D firms what growers need and guide the commission's funding decisions. Maybe a model for grapes?
May 2, 2019 | Wine Business Monthly
Wine Business Monthly covered the April 23 Efficient Vineyard demo in California. The article gives a detailed explanation of how the team has achieved variable-rate shoot-thinning using sensor data integrated with commercially available mechanized hardware. Project PI Dr. Terry Bates is quoted: "One of the big drawbacks of mechanization is we're trying to apply uniform treatments to a non-uniform grape growing system. With this project, we're trying to collect data to make better decisions in order to apply variable rate management in the vineyard at the appropriate locations."
May 2019 | California Association of Winegrape Growers
The Lodi Winegrowers put together a terrific outreach meeting last month to emphasize the importance of regional efforts to manage mealybug and virus. Here, the California Association of Winegrape Growers' "The Crush" newsletter gives an overview of the guidance given by the experts who spoke, including Drs. Kent Daane, Mark Fuchs and Gerhard Pietersen. "Once a virus infects a grapevine, there is no cure," said Dr. Fuchs. "Focus all your disease efforts on eliminating virus inoculum in your vineyards."
April 30, 2019 | Youris
A robotic grapevine? Researchers at Italy's Center for Micro-BioRobotics have developed the first robot that mimics the behavior of grapevine shoots. PI Barbara Mazzolai says, "the robot can create its own body and move toward (and attach to) a stimulus of interest, using manufacturing technologies."
April 11, 2019 | Cornell Research
Engineers and plant biologists are forging breakthroughs in digital technologies such as a microtensiometer and AquaDust that can help with water issues. The former mimics the microvasculature of a plant (including grapevines), translating it to voltage that can be easily read. The latter turns leaves into sensors themselves, enabling them to register water stress by changing their flourescence, which can be read by a multispectral camera. 
March 26, 2019 | Plos One
New research holds promise for a bio-control for the esca trunk disease complex, for which no treatment has yet been found. A team of scientists in Italy found that inoculation with Epicoccum (specifically E. layuense E24), a genus of fungus found in the soil and wood of grapevines, showed a considerable decrease (up to 82%) in symptomatology caused by esca-associated pathogens.
Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.

June 4-7, 2019

June 6-7, 2019
Sonoma County, CA

June 17-20, 2019
Napa, CA

June 23-28, 2019
Thessaloniki, Greece

June 25, 2019
Sonoma, CA

July 10, 2019
Woodinville, WA

July 7-12, 2019
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

July 19, 2019
NGRA Mid-Year Board Meeting
Geneva, NY

August 15-16, 2019
Mountain Grove, MO

Find all upcoming events
on the NGRA website.