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

A silver lining*
As with many meetings and events in our current pandemic culture, the NGRA Mid-Year Board meeting on June 19 was held entirely via Zoom. We typically offer remote meeting access for Board Directors who can't attend in person. This was the first time the whole meeting was conducted online. It was fine, but...
In This Issue
Because of the virtual format, the agenda was greatly condensed--from the usual six hours to three. And the networking aspects of the meeting--dinner the evening before and lunch during the proceedings--were absent. To me, the conversations that take place and relationships that are built during these informal parts of the agenda are just as--if not more--important as the meeting itself. Losing these elements, then, is a big loss. However, the content of and attendance at the meeting spoke to our sustained focus on research in support of the grape and wine industry.
Board Chairman Russ Smithyman (Ste. Michelle Wine Estates) reported on the pandemic's impact on NGRA's research mission, particularly as it relates to new and ongoing projects with our colleagues at academic institutions and government agencies. I spoke about the impact to our administrative activities, including closing our brick-and-mortar office for the foreseeable future and adapting our meetings and events to a mix of virtual and (in time, hopefully) in-person gatherings. The financial report by Secretary/Treasurer Dan Martinez (Martinez Orchards) reflected a financially stable organization despite the crisis.
Other aspects of the meeting seemed almost normal. We welcomed a new At-Large Representative, Roy Oneto (Cakebread Cellars), to our Board. On behalf of our Science Advisory Council, Sally Schneider, USDA-ARS (retired), gave an update on developments at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and UC Davis, and advised on the process for and progress of the federal budget for fiscal year 2021. Scott Bradford, the newly hired Research Leader for the USDA-ARS Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research Unit in Davis, CA, gave an overview of the vision and direction for the new unit.
As usual, the bulk of the meeting focused on the work of our Research Committee, the heart of what we do. The comprehensive report led by Research Chair Nick Dokoozlian (E. & J. Gallo Winery) included updates on the projects we're initiating, appropriations requests we're advancing and the roster of Research Committee members we've just refreshed (see Research Focus below), whose work with us is just beginning.
It was lovely to see the faces of so many of our members and stakeholders, and terrific to be able to move the ball forward on the science and issues that are important to our industry. But we miss the magic of meeting in person: deeper discussions, (re)new(ed) connections and Rick Stark's reliable contribution of Sun-Maid chocolate-covered raisins for all. For now, Zoom will have to do!

Donnell Brown

*About the Photo
Jennifer Russo, Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Team Leader and Viticulture Extension Specialist, snapped this photo at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab.
The stunning cloud formation made a dramatic backdrop for the CLEREL vines
(at left), including 
Riesling, Vignoles, Delaware, Aurora, Niagara and Concord.
The American Vineyard Foundation (AVF) last week announced $1.2 million in new funding for 19 projects (selected from 85 submissions) covering diverse topics from "Soil Health in Vineyards" and "Controlling Grapevine Trunk Diseases in California" to "Smoke Assessment in Grapes and Wine." View the full list of funded projects.
The USDA-ARS this month released its  2019 Annual Report on Science .  Accomplishments in grape include the release of a new table grape called Solbrio, a toolkit for monitoring daily water use in Central Valley California vineyards via the GRAPEX project, and the acceleration of breeding programs for grapes and other select specialty crops through Breeding Insight. The report also notes ARS' prioritization of investment in precision ag and automation technologies for tree fruit and small fruits crops. Thanks, ARS, for these innovations!
The Group of International Experts in  vinicultural Systems of Co-Operation (GiESCO) is accepting applications to host its 23rd (2023) and 24th (2025) Congress. The next (22nd) event is planned for July 18-23, 2021, in Ithaca, NY, hosted by Cornell University.  Find out how your institution can apply.
The Pierce's Disease & Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter (PD/GWSS) Referendum, conducted this spring, passed with 78% approval of California winegrape growers. All winegrape producer entities that paid the assessment on grapes crushed in 2019 received ballots and 49% cast ballots. Assessment funds are used for research, outreach and related activities on Pierce's Disease, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, and other designated pests and diseases of winegrapes. The Board advises the California Department of Food and Agriculture on the use of winegrape assessment funds and has invested more than $47 million since 2001 on research and outreach. The PD/GWSS Referendum is conducted every five years by law, and will take place again in 2025.
Of the 10 cooperative extension agents retiring tomorrow, two are seasoned viticulture specialists: Glenn McGourty and Rhonda Smith .  Each has been serving their local grape and wine community (for Glenn, Mendocino County; for Rhonda, Sonoma County) for more than 30 years! Click to read their stories, and be sure to wish them congratulations before they go!
Sethuraman Panchanathan has been officially appointed as the 15th director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). His appointment was effective this month, and he will be sworn in at a ceremony on July 2. While acknowledging the pandemic, the most pressing scientific challenge of the moment, Dr. Panchanathan affirms NSF's commitment to basic research. "Advancing basic research is our fundamental purpose," he said. "Looking to cutting-edge areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and big data will accelerate our science and technology progress in the coming years."
This month, USDA-NIFA announced an investment of $4.8 million to support  12 projects  that will offer workforce training by community colleges. These awards are made possible through the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative's (AFRI) Agricultural Workforce Training program priority area. This is the first time that NIFA has specifically targeted community colleges to increase training opportunities for the food and agricultural workforce sector. Training subject areas include improving worker skills in nursery production, pesticide application, hydraulic systems, leadership for workers in rural areas and more.
Under the USDA's new SECURE (Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient) biotechnology  rule, plants may be exempt from regulation if they...
  • have modifications that could have been achieved through conventional breeding;
  • have crop/trait combinations that were previously reviewed and are unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk; and
  • were previously determined to not be regulated by APHIS via its "Am I Regulated?" process.
Beginning on August 17, developers will be able to start submitting requests to confirm that the plants they've developed are exempt. To help stakeholders prepare for these submissions, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has updated its Confidential Business Information guidance and posted frequently asked questions to its  SECURE web page. Plus, a webinar is scheduled for August 5;  sign up hereLearn more.
Michelle Moyer is the recipient of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) 2020 Extension Distinction Award. She will give her Extension Distinction Award Presentation , "Land Grants and Grapes: Traditional Approaches for Modern Extension Programs," via webinar on August 5.
The authors of  this year's best papers  from ASEV's American Journal of Enology and Viticulture also will present their work online (see the papers at the links below):
Last but not least, ASEV's invasive pest webinar series continues this month. Megan Hall ( University of Missouri, Columbia) will give the next presentation, " Fruit Flies and Their Role in Sour Rot ," this Thursday, July 2.
All ASEV webinars are free to ASEV members and $50 per webinar for non-members.  For more information and registration for this presentation, visit the  ASEV Webinars page .  
The new Hyperspectral Virus Identification and Detection ( Hypervid)  project seeks to evaluate the potential of remote sensing coupled with machine learning to detect major diseases (red blotch and leafroll) more efficiently than traditional, more manual methods. As the study kicks off, the research collaborators are seeking input from California growers. Click to weigh in!

At our Mid-Year Board Meeting this month, NGRA Research Committee Chair Nick Dokoozlian (E. & J. Gallo Winery) reported that each of our four Research Theme Committees has updated its roster of members and, importantly, retained its Theme Committee Chair. Each Theme Committee now has 12 people from both industry and academia, most serving three-year terms. Help us welcome--and thank--these committee members: 
Extension and Outreach
Chair: Keith Striegler - CA - E. & J. Gallo Winery
Maha Afifi - California Table Grape Commission
Karen Block - UC Davis
Stephanie Bolton - CA - Lodi Winegrape Commission
Brent DeBorde - Sun-Maid Growers of California
Gill Giese - New Mexico State University
Ed Hellman - Texas Tech University
Karl Lehman - CA - Allied Grape Growers
Andrew Meggitt - Missouri Wine & Grape Board (St. James Winery)
Michelle Moyer - Washington State University
Renee Threlfall - University of Arkansas
Hans Walter-Peterson - Cornell University
Genetics and Grapevine Improvement
Chair: Franka Gabler, California Table Grape Commission
Maher Al Rwahnih - CA - Foundation Plant Services
Tim Bourne - CA - Sunview Vineyards
Lance Cadle-Davidson - NY - USDA-ARS, Geneva
Dario Cantu - UC Davis
Matt Clark - University of Minnesota
Beth Forrestel - UC Davis
Dan Martinez - CA - Martinez Orchards
John Martini - NY - Anthony Road Wine Company
Rachel Naegele - CA - USDA-ARS, Parlier
David Scott - Sun-Maid Growers of California
Yun Zhang - WA - Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Integrated Production Systems
Chair: Russ Smithyman - WA - Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Mark Amidon - NY - National Grape Co-operative/Welch's
Luca Brillante - CA - Fresno State
Franka Gabler - California Table Grape Commission
Katie Gold - NY - Cornell University
Toby Halkovich - CA - Heitz Cellar
Melissa Hansen - Washington Wine Commission
Cain Hickey - Penn State
Marshall Miller - CA - Thornhill Companies
Emily Pelton - Virginia Wine Board (Veritas Vineyards & Winery)
Rich Schaefers - CA - Silverado Partners
Patty Skinkis - OR - Oregon State University
Natural Resources and Environment
Chair: Anji Perry - CA - J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines
Maha Afifi - California Table Grape Committee
Megan Bartlett - UC Davis
Imed Dami - The Ohio State University
Allison Jordan - CA - Wine Institute
Markus Keller - Washington State University
Jason Londo - NY - USDA-ARS, Geneva
Andrew McElrone - CA - USDA-ARS, Davis
Roy Oneto - CA - Cakebread Cellars
Tony Stephen - CA - American Vineyard Foundation (Scheid Family Wines)
Julie Tarara -  WA - Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Steve Vasquez - Sun-Maid Growers of California
The committees this month began the process of brainstorming and prioritizing research needs for the grape and wine industry. The goal? Initiating one compelling, large-scale research project each over the next one to two years!
Act fast for the following grant programs.

Crops of the Future
Through its Crops of the Future Collaborative, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is providing research funding to develop transformative tools and technologies that allow scientists to rapidly introduce new traits into multiple crop species (e.g., projects may not be specific to a single crop, like grapes). Crops species covered under this funding opportunity are those that are well-suited for sustainable agriculture, valuable for human nutrition and considered an under-appreciated crop that has not benefited from rapid breeding methods.  The deadline for applications is July 8. See the  complete request for proposals.

Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative

NIFA's Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative (AG2PI) invites inviting innovative research proposals that will lay the foundation for expanding knowledge concerning genomes and phenomes of agriculturally important crops and animals. Deadline is July 15, 2020 For more information read the AG2PI funding opportunity.
Plant Biotic Interactions Program
The Plant Biotic Interactions (PBI) program supports research on processes that mediate beneficial and antagonistic interactions between plants and their viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal, plant, and invertebrate symbionts, pathogens and pests. This joint NSF-NIFA program supports projects focused on current and emerging model and non-model systems and agriculturally relevant plants. For more information, read the PBI funding opportunity. Proposals are accepted anytime.

June 24, 2020 | Western Farm Press
With a $500K grant from CDFA, Mark Hoddle of the UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research is rolling out a proactive biocontrol program to evaluate natural enemies of the spotted lanternfly, starting with a tiny Chinese parasite wasp.
June 22, 2020 | UC Riverside
UC Riverside has won a $10M grant to develop AI to increase the environmental and economic stability of the Colorado River Basin and Salinas River Valley, an agriculturally significant area threatened by prolonged drought, soil degradation and salinity, and other impacts of climate change. In addition to AI tools, the project seeks to develop a new multistate cooperative extension program for growers and a fellowship to educate future ag leaders.
June 15, 2020 | The Gray Report
In light of recent events, here's some inspiration for corporate culture from NGRA member E. & J. Gallo Winery and its Gallo African American Network. As The Gray Report says in his preface to this interview, "Businesses can learn a lot from Gallo."
June 15, 2020 | Wine Spectator
Scientifically speaking, grapes and wine can help reduce the risk of developing dementia, especially when consumed as part of a varied diet of healthy foods.
June 11, 2020 | The Daily Progress
Montifalco Vineyard, Reynard Florence Vineyard and others along Virginia's Monticello Wine Trail lost primary buds in overwhelming numbers from frigid temps over Mother's Day weekend. Here, growers share their observations about what the cold snap will mean for their vines, both this growing season and next.
June 10, 2020 | Western Farm Press
The University of California's first-ever institute for organic research and education has opened its doors. As part of UC Agriculture & Natural Resources, in collaboration with CLIF Bar, the California Organic Institute's charge is to develop and adopt effective tools and practices for organic farmers. It will focus on rice, tree fruits, tree nuts and raisins--commodities representing California's Central Valley.
June 10, 2020 | Cornell CALS
A newly funded project led by Cornell AgriTech's Dr. Kaitlin (Katie) Gold focuses on "Advancing (Grape) Downy Mildew Resistance Management for New York Grape Growers." Responding to GDM's emerging resistance to carboxylic acid amide fungicides, the project will employ hyperspectral sensors (Katie's area of expertise) to gauge the pathogen's CAA sensitivity. "Ultimately, sensors could make finding resistant downy mildew a whole lot easier for growers," she said.
June 10, 2020 | Western Farm Press
Although "it's a period of low-to-no growth where berries are kind of green and hard," says Larry Bettiga, UCCE Monterey, lag phase is "a chemical switching period where the berries get signals to begin their next phase of development." Many use lag phase to begin making critical yield estimates for the season.
June 9, 2020 | Frontiers in Plant Science
Girdling is used primarily for table grapes to improve berry weight, sugar content and color and to promote early harvest. But a team of UC Davis scientists (and one from Brazil) has shown that the practice can improve berry color and other phenolics in Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, too.
June 9, 2020 | Nature Communications
Wow! This research led by UC Davis significantly advances the understanding of the genetic basis of sex determination in Vitis and provides the information necessary to rapidly identify sex types in grape breeding programs.
June 8, 2020 | The Revelator
New research shows a permanent dryness expanding across the US--much more than "drought." Scientists hope more accurate language will spur critical action.
June 5, 2020 | Vitisphere
Two of the grape varieties resistant to fungal diseases (downy and powdery mildew) developed by the late French researcher Alain Bouquet have been listed in the Official Catalogue of Species and Varieties of Plants Grown in France. Registration of Rebelia (red) and Recybel (white), shown here, mark the successful completion of the Fijus project, whose aim is to obtain varieties specific to grape juice production. Registration for a third Bouquet variety, Reclia, is expected in 2021.
June 5, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
On June 3, Penn State's Heather Leach gave an in-depth web-based presentation on the spotted lanternfly, the first of four webinars on invasive pests put on by ASEV. She shared research to date and management recommendations, and noted that the USDA last year awarded a $7.3M grant to support a 37-member project to learn more about this destructive pest.
June 4, 2020 | Michigan State University
In an excellent example of citizen science, MSU Regrow Milkweed for Monarchs: A Citizen Science Study has attracted interest from laypeople across seven states to keep this important pollinators project alive--and thriving--during the pandemic.
June 3, 2020 | U.S. Right to Know
A federal court overturned the EPA's approval of dicamba-based herbicides, saying the agency "substantially understated the risks" of their use. The ruling makes it effectively illegal for farmers to continue to use the product.
June 2, 2020 | Growing Produce
The University of Arkansas' Elena Garcia planted table grape selections from the U of A fruit breeding program in high tunnels to see if they would help the vines survive the state's hot, humid summers and high fungal and insect pressure. It worked...almost too well. The vines grew so vigorously they produced 45 kilograms of fruit per vine!
May 29, 2020 | VitiCulture Data Journal
Growing Blanc du Bois? New research led by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service shows that its vigor and semi-drooping growth habit make it well-suited for horizontally divided canopy training systems.
May 27, 2020 | Western Farm Press
UC Berkeley's Kent Daane is leading a project in which 1,000 acres of vineyards in Lodi and the Central Coast will be equipped with pheromone disruption tools to combat vine mealybug on an area-wide basis. "My initial hypothesis is we probably don't yet know enough about the movement and spread of the problem in vines that might be infected, but don't appear as symptomatic for a couple of years," Dr. Daane said. "There are a lot of aspects of this disease epidemiology that are going to surprise us and it will be exciting to come up with programs that will help in future control."
May 19, 2020 | Good Fruit Growers
As grapevine red blotch, leafroll virus and new pests become more prevalent and oversupply gives the industry time to pause, Washington wine growers may be entering a new era of virus testing. Several experts cited here encourage testing early and often--even on "clean" planting stock--to combat the often fast-moving spread of infection.
May 6, 2020 | Texas A&M University Engineering
Researchers at Texas A&M University have created antioxidant mats made from ultra-fine strands of a polymer and tannic acid, found in red wine, that can serve to prevent oxidation and spoilage. "Polyphenols are known for their antioxidant properties," said one author of the study. "Tannic acid is replete with polyphenols, which makes it a great scavenger of free radicals." Applications for the mats range from bandages for wound healing to container linings for food storage.
Find these stories and more, published as we find them, on the NGRA Facebook page.
July 9, 2020

August 27, 2020 (Could be postponed to April 2021)

August 27, 2020
Paso Robles, CA

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.