July  2020
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

Photo credit Stephen Hiltner*
This month, the  NGRA Research Theme Committees  began their brainstorming and prioritization process, each with the goal of coming up with one or two ideas that can be progressed into actual research projects. As we dig into the exercise, generating input on industry-needed research, one theme has become bracingly clear. As a community, collectively, we know very little about what grape research is being done across the country.
In This Issue
We thought maybe we could shed some light on the subject.

We started compiling a spreadsheet that captures all the funded grape research we can find. From state and federal grant programs to intramural funding sources (e.g., research coded to grape for USDA scientists annually) across the US, we're seeking to create a comprehensive snapshot into the ways scientists are working to improve viticulture in America. Our spreadsheet starts with 2020 funding and will continue from here. And it includes only p rojects that are directly related to grape--e.g., grapes are specifically referenced in the title or objectives of each project. There are a lot of studies going on in water, soil, insect pests, sustainability and/or organics, and more that may impact grape, but don't have grapes as their focus. These projects are absolutely valuable contributions to grape research! But for the purposes of our spreadsheet, they are not included.

We hope our spreadsheet is useful, not just for our Research Committees in their work to initiate new research, but for the grape and wine community at large. It's a vehicle to understand the science that's underway to advance our industry, and to see the names of the people and organizations doing and funding it. We're grateful to all who are listed.
The spreadsheet is available to download right now! And it will be updated ongoingly, just as soon as we get wind of funded grape research. (Note: If you administer or are aware of other grant programs that fund grape research not represented in our spreadsheet, hit reply and let us know!) Finding this information takes a bit of legwork, but it's certainly l ess difficult than understanding whether or not we're being visited by aliens. The truth (about funded grape research) is out there--and we aspire to share it with you.
Donnell Brown

*About the Photo
Photographer Stephen Hiltner  captured this beautiful image over the vineyard at
Channing Daughters Winery on Long Island. He writes, "One of Walter Channing's
upside-down tree sculptures in Bridgehampton, NY, made for a trippy silhouette
in this photograph of Comet NEOWISE, taken on July 20. I had to wait a few days
to take this photo, until the skies were clear--but considering the comet won't
return for 6,800 years, I'd say it was worth the wait. (The blinking red streak,
which seems to point directly at the comet, is a fortuitously timed airplane.)"
Richard (Rich) Smith, founder of Valley Farm Management, Paraiso Vineyards and Smith Family Wines in California's Monterey wine region, was first and foremost a family man, and also a successful grape grower and winery owner, and respected colleague. Through his significant and selfless contributions of time, energy and funds to organizations that advance the American grape and wine industry, he came to be known as a highly effective, collegial and tireless leader. He passed away in December 2015. Three of the organizations Rich helped to shape--the National Grape Research Alliance , WineAmerica and Winegrape Growers of America --collaborated to create the Rich Smith Distinguished Service Award to honor his spirit and legacy. It recognizes people who demonstrate similar qualities and make a similarly positive impact on the industry. Nominations for the 2021 award are being accepted through October 30, 2020. Click to nominate a leader.
NGRA member-organization California Association of Winegrape Growers and the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, co-organizers of the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, will be taking the 2021 event online due to concerns about COVID-19. The virtual conference will take place on January 26-28, 2021, and will feature a virtual trade show throughout the three days, with an additional half-day on January 29. (Unified was previously scheduled for January 12-14 in Sacramento.) It is the first time in the event's 26 years that it will be presented in an online format. "We are confident that we can deliver the same invaluable content in a convenient and safe virtual format," says ASEV Executive Director Dan Howard. See the full press release.
Unable to offer viticulture and enology students the opportunity to present their research findings at its national conference, the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) solicited videos instead. Six students have been select ed as the 2020 Best Student Video Presentation Award recipients:
For Viticulture:
  • First Place - Andrew Harner, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, for "Preliminary Insights into Grapevine Ecophysical Responses to Spotted Lanternfly Population Density in Pennsylvania"
  • Second Place - Harper Smith, University of Missouri, Columbia, for "Potential Insect Vectors of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus in Missouri Vineyards"
  • Third Place - Andrej Svyantek, North Dakota State University, Fargo, for "Observations on Inheritance of Lacinate Leaves in Hybrid Grapevine Populations Derived from "Chasselas Cioutat'"
For Enology:
  • First Place - Rachel Allison, Cornell University, New York, for "Glutathione Increases Formation of Unstable Copper-Sulfhydryl Complexes Capable of Releasing H2S During Bottle Storage"
  • Second Place - Demetra Perry, Cornell University, New York, for "Effects of Pre-Fermentative Treatments on Juice Fermentation Kinetics, Color Extraction, and Volatile Composition
  • Third Place - Hannah Charnock, Brock University, Canada, for "Impact of Production Method on Metal Content in Sparkling Wines"
Congrats to all! View the winning videos.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this month announced that Dr. Parag Chitnis will serve as Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) upon the departure of Dr. Scott Angle. Read the complete announcement .
The New York Wine and Grape Foundation, an NGRA member-organization, this month issued a slate of research priorities for 2021, spanning  viticulture, enology and business management. The list was developed via industry focus groups co-led by the Foundation and Cornell University researchers and extension specialists. The Foundation's Research Committee now seeks review and comment from members of the New York wine and grape community, and will release the final research themes in December. See the list and weigh in.
The Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research this month announced the projects it has funded for 2020-21. The NCSFR received 36 new project proposals which were thoroughly reviewed by industry members and researchers. View the funded projects list  for 2020-21, 14 of which are grape-related. (These projects are included in our spreadsheet of funded grape research--see top story, above.)
Emilio Miranda, viticulturist and grower relations representative for NGRA member-organization Allied Grape Growers (AGG), retired this month after 44 years in the wine industry--16 of them at AGG. A Fresno State grad, he provided support for AGG members, kept them informed about effective viticultural practices and handled harvest scheduling in the Central Valley-his most cherished time of year. He was an active member of the NGRA Research Committee . Read more about Emilio's storied career.
The University of Arkansas' Margaret Worthington, assistant professor of fruit breeding and genetics, has been named one of Fruit Grower News' Fruit and Vegetable "40 Under 40" award winners. Margaret directs the peach and muscadine grape breeding efforts for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. She also conducts research on genetics for these fruits plus blackberries, and teaches plant breeding and fruit production as a member of the U of A faculty. Read more.
The GrapeSPEC (Sensing, Pathology, and Extension at Cornell AgriTech) Lab is seeking a NASA-funded  postdoc to study plant disease surveillance with remote sensing and atmospheric modeling tools. The position includes the opportunity for a research stay at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and collaboration with colleagues at Penn State's Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. Learn more.
Every year, Oregon winemakers seek to imprint on young talented wine professionals through harvest internships. "It's how we screen for our new cult members," says Oregon Wine Board (OWB) President Tom Danowski. If you're looking for a plum harvest (and learning) opportunity in Oregon Wine Country, click to the OWB's job opportunities page and sort the listings accordingly.
Help to support scientists embarking on new research in...
  • Irrigation and Heatwaves: Researchers at UC Davis are conducting a multi-year, multi-phase study to develop and improve cultivar-specific irrigation recommendations for maintaining winegrape quality and quantity in the face of longer, hotter and more frequent heatwaves. This survey targets California growers, but input from other Western states is welcome. (On the survey, choose "other" and write in your region.) Click to participate.
  • Cover Crops: Whether you have them planted now, have planted them in the past, or have never planted cover crops at all, scientists at the University of Idaho, Oregon State University and Boise State University would appreciate your input. Their project is funded by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE). Click to participate. 
As the world continues to wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic, impacts ripple through research supporting the grape and wine industry. It's not all bad, but it all points to an end to what was once business as usual.
It is no longer surprising to hear of wine and spirits producers moving to make hand sanitizer. Eyebrows were raised, though, on the news that, in France, harvest demands for tank space led the government to buy wine left unsold due to restaurant closures and US tariffs to make hand gel and ethanol. Now, in New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has awarded funding to the Bragato Research Institute for a pilot study on employing grape pomace for this use. It's an area that's untested, says MJ Loza, CEO of the Institute. "We haven't had the capability to conduct a study like this in New Zealand until now, with our new research winery opening in February." A unique opportunity for a new research facility that perhaps only a pandemic could deliver!
Government grant-funding agencies have extended deadlines and given flexibility on some conditions for grants for research. And at most universities and USDA facilities, field research has resumed, while access to labs remains somewhat limited due to social distancing requirements. Yet, with many states tightening restrictions as infection rates surge, in-person instruction will have to wait. For institutions like Washington State University, including the Tri-Cities campus, home of the university's Wine Science Center, "Fall (is) shifting to remote."
The most concerning COVID outcome so far has been the unequal effects on scientists, as reported in the journal Nature-Human Behavior. "COVID-19 has not affected all scientists equally," writes Kyle Myers (Harvard Business School), et al. "A survey of principal investigators indicates that female scientists, those in the 'bench sciences' and, especially, scientists with young children experienced a substantial decline in time devoted to research." Plus, agriculture and other biological sciences are among the areas with the steepest declines in research time. As the authors indicate, these and other more far-reaching implications may impact research for years to come.

But perhaps one positive impact is the relative democratization of industry and academic conferences. Although there is no replacement for the networking and community-building that can only happen face-to-face, this year's move to virtual platforms for important events like the ASEV National Conference, Sustainable Ag Expo and International Sustainable Winegrowing Summit and, this month, the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium has made them less travel- and time-intensive and therefore easier to attend by more people. Exte nsion events, too, traditionally put on for local grower audiences, may now be viewed by anyone anywhere. (See some examples in the Upcoming Events below.) In some cases, event registration costs are reduced or are parsed out over multiple, topical webinars, making events more financially accessible, too. Perhaps these online events can improve the dissemination of research outputs and help scientists to share their results with a wider audience--at least for now, while we're working remotely.

What does it all mean? Only that disruption continues. And that we'll need to be vigilant to the impacts--good and bad--so we can address them when (fingers crossed!) the novel coronavirus is finally in hand.
As part of its efforts "to prolong the effectiveness of fungicides liable to encounter resistance problems and to limit crop losses should resistance occur," the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) compiles a FRAC Classification of Fungicides poster , which visually depicts fungal control agents by cross-resistance pattern and mode of action. Many thanks to the FRAME (Fungicide Resistance Assessment, Mitigation and Extension) Network for promoting the 2020 update of this helpful tool to the grape and wine industry. Download it now!
Act fast for these grant programs.

NSF Innovation Corps Hubs Program
The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks to further develop and nurture a national innovation ecosystem that guides the output of scientific discoveries closer to the development of technologies, products, and services that benefit society. The goal of the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Program is to reduce the time and risk associated with translating promising ideas and technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace. Proposals are due August 13, 2020. Read more and apply.
Plant Protection and Clean Plants Grants
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) invites submissions for fiscal year 2021 funding via Plant Protection Act (PPA) Section 7721 and the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN). Each program has different goal areas, so...
  • Learn more about PPA project funding and apply by August 21, 2020.
  • Or check out the NCPN website for program priorities and submit your proposal by October 9, 2020.
OIV 2020 Research Scholarships

The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) grants research scholarships in priority program fields, including viticulture, enology, economy and law, and safety and health. These grants are short-term (6 to 15 months maximum) and are provided for specific post-graduate training programs. Candidates must be very qualified, with the desire to pursue their research, further knowledge and keep up on the latest progress made in their field of study and/or work. Apply by October 24, 2020. Learn more.

AFRI Foundational and Applied Science Program
The request for applications (RFA) for USDA-NIFA's flagship Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational and Applied Science Program was issued this month. The program supports grants to advance knowledge in both fundamental and applied sciences in 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; and Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities. Research-only, extension-only, and integrated research, education and/or extension projects are welcome.  See the RFA for details. Deadlines for 2021 programs range from May through July 2021, depending on the program area; 2022 deadlines are listed, as well.

Remember, if you're a scientist planning to apply for these or other grant programs, you can request a letter of support (if needed) from NGRA on our website.

July 28, 2020 | EurekAlert
Breakthrough! Scientists have mapped the genome of the phylloxera (insect), identifying the genes that enable the pest to colonize and feed off grapevines. With this genetic info, they say it may now be possible to develop phylloxera-resistant varieties.
July 21, 2020 | Wine Spectator
What does it take to be considered the world's foremost "pruning guru and vine whisperer"? For Italian agronomist Marco Simonit, success stems from a "stunningly simple observation: that severe pruning weakens vines by blocking the flow of their life-giving sap, thereby making them susceptible to disease and premature death."
July 14, 2020 | National Science Foundation
Texas is headed for the driest conditions it's seen in the last 1,000 years. NSF-funded research by Texas A&M University scientists shows that Texas will have drier summers and decreasing water supplies for the rest of the 21st century.
July 9, 2020 | VitisGen2
Now with mapping populations two to three years old, the VitisGen2 team is beginning to see distinct differences in bloom time. One variety blooms early and fast, one blooms late and over a more extended time, and one is right in the middle. Click to find out which does what.
July 9, 2020 | Meininger's Wine Business International
Researchers at Cornell AgriTech, the University of Florida and SAGA Robotics have developed an autonomous robot called Thorvald (in prototype) that uses UV light lamps to eliminate fungal diseases in vineyards. Project leader David Gadoury of Cornell estimates that each robot could retail for approximately $60,000. "SAGA is investigating the logistics of manufacturing the robots on a larger scale. When that happens, we expect the market to react very positively. This is the future."
July 8, 2020 | Western Farm Press
At the 40-acre research vineyard at UC Davis' Oakville Research Station, Kaan Kurtural and his team run "a living laboratory" of automated solutions, exploring pruning, shoot and leaf removal, and creating a no-touch "vineyard of the future."
July 7, 2020 | Wine-Searcher
From homemade composts to essential oils and mating disruption for destructive pests, many wine producers are exploring chemical-free solutions to manage their vineyards. Here, Macari Vineyards & Winery, Les Lunes Wine and other international growers share their strategies.
July 7, 2020 | Western Farm Press
Tapan Pathak, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Merced, is co-leading development of Cal AgroClimate, a web-based decision support system to help California growers mitigate the impact of weather events, built on the same platform as AgroClimate, popular in the Southeast. Pathak also collaborates with extension professionals across the western US to do extension events related to climate change adaptation. His advice to farmers: "You don't have to shift your practice tomorrow, but if you are thinking of making a 30-year investment, it's important to know what risks there are for planting."
July 7, 2020| UC Riverside
Not grape research, but great news for our friends in citrus! Congrats to UC Riverside geneticist Hailing Jin, who discovered this cure--an antimicrobial peptide--for citrus greening after a five-year search.

July 6, 2020 | National Wine and Grape Industry Centre
Researchers from Australia's National Wine and Grape Industry Centre have developed a prototype of a AI-based smartphone imaging app for field diagnosis of grapevine disorders and management recommendations. They hope to field-test it with growers this season.
July 1, 2020 | Fuchs Lab, Cornell University
The most effective way to manage viruses in the vineyard is to prevent them. But as Cornell University's Marc Fuchs points out, there are some simple strategies that can mitigate impact that aren't widely adopted. Find out what's holding growers back and how these practices can be put in place.
July 2020 | California Association of Winegrape Growers
Wondering how to better estimate grapevine water status? California Association of Winegrape Growers' July issue of The Crush newsletter includes a round-up of solutions released so far this year. Says writer Ted Rieger, "These technologies allow growers to gather more vine water status data from more locations and gather information more efficiently with less labor, and potentially at lower cost, than taking pressure bomb readings."
June 29, 2020 | Growing Produce
In 2019, the total acreage of California raisins harvested by mechanical means was nearly 30%, up from just more than 16% six years ago. Click to find out which varieties and which trellising systems are harvested mechanically.
June 26, 2020 | AgNet West
When it comes to the use of insects as biocontrols, do you know the difference between parasitoids and predators? Click to this podcast from AgNet West and listen as UC Riverside's Mark Hoddle explains.
June 24, 2020 | Western Farm Press
To combat the threats of market forces, climate change, labor availability and more, NGRA member California Association of Winegrape Growers focuses on public policy. The goal is to try to shield growers from undue regulations and to ensure the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the industry. Research is an important part of that strategy.
June 18, 2020 |
Who needs tasting panels (or even your own taste buds)? Artificial tongues can now detect astringency, like tannic acid. This new development in "human tongue-like biomimicry," published in Science Advances, is a breakthrough by a team of scientists in Korea.
June 16, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
After three years of study, Manoj Karkee at the WSU Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems finds that the presence of a hovering drone kept birds away as much as five times than the control. The FAA still requires drones to be piloted, preventing full automation. But Karkee says the tech will be ready if and when the rules allow.
June 10, 2020 | Western Farm Press
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service has teamed up with state and federal research institutions in CA, WA and OR to support $2M in grape smoke exposure research. Scientists at Oregon State University, Washington State University, UC Davis and ARS will focus on developing new tools for assessing risk and changes to grape and wine chemistry, mitigation measures, and management strategies.
June 5, 2020 | ASEV Catalyst
The current issue of American Society for Enology & Viticulture's web-based Catalyst journal includes four compelling articles. They explore high-cordon training systems, cane- and spur-pruning in Pinot Noir, canopy management strategies for Petite Manseng, and pay and benefits as retention strategies.
June 2020 | American Vineyard Magazine
Whether for aesthetics (table grapes) or for optimum management, architecture in grape clusters is an important consideration for grape breeders and growers. Don't miss the cool photos illustrating the differences in this article!
June 2020 | IEEE Computer Society
The special section of the May/June edition of IEEE's IT Professional magazine focuses on "Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture." In particular, it highlights the efforts of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in low-cost computer vision systems, machine learning, remote sensing, cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things (IOT).
May 28, 2020 | AgNet West
Cornell's Marc Fuchs has identified a molecule that will kill vine mealybug on contact. As Steve McEntyre of the CDFA Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board explains in this quick interview, pesticides can take up to an hour to kill the pest, during which time it continues to spread leafroll disease. This promising innovation could clear the vine immediately.
May 20, 2020 | Oxford Academic
As climate change advances, having a clear understanding of grapevine responses to water deficit becomes more critical, especially as growers seek to increase the efficiency and resiliency of viticultural practices and move toward planting (and for breeders, developing) drought-tolerant varieties and rootstocks. But many questions--most of them genetic--remain, as this literature review reveals.
April 3, 2020 | Agricultural & Environmental Letters
Scientists at North Carolina State University are leading development of the Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool, a comprehensive database of phosporous and potassium correlation-calibration results. They envision FRST for use in research and fertilizer recommendation development, and as a user-friendly online decision support tool for growers across the US.

Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.
August 4, 2020
Virtual event

August 5, 2020
2020 ASEV Extension Distinction Award Presentation
Michelle Moyer, Washington State University
Virtual event

August 11, 2020
Biology and Management of Post-Veraison Fruit Rots
Katie Gold, Cornell University and Greg Loeb, Cornell AgriTech
Virtual event

August 12-13, 2020

August 25, 2020
Cation Exchange and Other Winemaking Practices for Dealing with High pH and High TA Fruit and Wines
Misha Kwasniewski, Penn State University and Chris Gerling, Cornell University
Virtual event

October 22, 2020
ASEV Invasive Pests Webinar Series
Lifecycle Modeling and the Impacts of Climate Change

Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, Washington State University, Prosser

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.