October 2018
Advancing research to maximize the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness
 of the American grape industries.

A harvester on the Texas High Plains. Photo courtesy of Lost Draw Vineyards.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of  Frankenstein,  Mary Shelley's novel about a monster stitched-together from human remains and brought to life with a jolt electricity. Back in 1818, when Shelley wrote her story, cars hadn't even been invented. So the idea of automation and mechanization of any kind seemed far-fetched. And science was seen as scary stuff.
In This Issue
Today, Frankensteinian technology is commonplace. Robots and high-tech "brains" (a.k.a. computers) are everywhere. Indeed, modern mechanized solutions are nimble and smart, and welcome in our lives--far from the "shambling, grunting, green-faced lunk" met with shrieks and pitchforks as in the 1931 movie. Even grape-growing, once the sole province of highly romanticized hand-labor, is fertile ground for this kind of innovation, particularly as growers across the country find it difficult to find workers for their fields.
Mechanized harvesters like the one shown above are in use in wine, juice and raisin vineyards. And although working with machines can sometimes be dangerous, the industry seeks more mechanization. Iron Ox, a hydroponic lettuce farm is held up as an example. The company is opening its  first autonomous production facility --an 8,000-s.f. indoor farm --near San Fran cisco, producing 26,000 heads of leafy greens a year... with almost no human intervention. But r ather than eliminating jobs, the company hopes, the robots will fill the gaps in the industry's workforce.
Even technology guru, Tesla's Elon Musk,  agrees.  "Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake," he tweeted earlier this year, after his robotic assembly plant failed to meet aggressive delivery timelines for the new Model 3. "To be precise, (it was) my mistake. Humans are underrated." 
While labor grows scarce in vineyards nationwide, mechanization and automation hold the promise of meeting production and speeding tasks while reducing error and improving quality. Machines also are seen as a means of moving jobs toward more skilled tasks, particularly those where human intuition has no equal.
Frankenstein is often seen as a cautionary tale, warning of the potential of science to overreach. But as the Tesla example shows, we are learning that machines and humans must work together for their highest and best purpose: liberation. For, as Henry Ford said of his own automated invention (he did not invent the car, but rather the Model T, the first affordable--and thus, practical--automobile), "Man minus the machine is a slave; man plus the machine is a free man."
Donnell Brown

Congress adjourned for the November 6 mid-term elections without passing a Farm Bill. While it is widely anticipated that they will return after the elections for a lame duck session, it is uncertain whether they will be able to resolve their differences and reauthorize a Farm Bill. Of note are the 39 orphaned programs that expired on September 30. The Trump administration helped to clarify the situation, saying that, while existing programs will continue, no new contracts and no new regulations will be released under the terms of the now expired 2014 Farm Bill.
Also of particular interest to NGRA are the research programs authorized by the Farm Bill, namely the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), Specialty Crop Block Grant program and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  then reach out to your Congressmen and women, and encourage their support for the Farm Bill.

Dr. James (Jim) Wolpert, former chair of the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, succumbed to cancer at his home in Hermann, Missouri, on October 14. A formative figure, not only for UC Davis but for the California wine industry and beyond, Jim will be greatly missed. His family has requested that, i n lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Hermann Food Pantry or to the Backpack Program in care of the Toedtmann & Grosse Funeral Home, also in Hermann.  Read more about Jim's life and legacy here.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue swore in Dr. J. Scott Angle as the Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on October 29. President Trump appointed Angle for a six-year term at the agency on August 31. "Dr. Angle has more than 35 years of experience in scientific research and administration, and I am confident that he will move NIFA forward in many ways," said Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA's Acting Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics. Read Dr. Angle's bio on the NIFA website.

The USDA-NIFA and some of its research partners announced the recipients of awards recognizing National Excellence in Multistate Research, Excellence in Research Leadership, and National Experiment Station Section Diversity and Inclusion. See the list of worthy award winners and join us in congratulating them all. They will receive their honors at the 131st Annual Meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities on November 11 in New Orleans.

Over the past several years, the  Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research Conference has been held off and on. Input and interest from stakeholders has prompted the Center to work out a strategy to bring it back as an annual event, starting in 2019. The Northwest Berry Foundation will organize the next conference with the support and advice of Philip Gütt. The proposed theme?  "Northwest berry and grape research five years from now: Where do we need to be? How do we get there?" Save the date for the event, February 21-22, 2019 at a location in Northwest Washington, TBD.
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is closing the book on its AgResearch magazine, but it will continue to share stories and scientific discoveries from agency researchers in its new publication, Tellus, going live this Fall. It will feature in-depth features, short stories, infographics, videos, photo essays, and other content with topics ranging from human nutrition, food safety, and crop and animal production. If you currently receive AgResearch magazine, your subscription will be automatically transferred to the Tellus subscription list. If not, subscribe here.

The brand-new New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre has appointed Lincoln University's Dr. Brian Jordan as Acting Head of Science and Innovation to help establish the Centre and its science program. Now, they're looking for a top-notch scientist to fill the position on a permanent basis.  Could it be you?

No one doubts the power of the Internet to disseminate information. The web's utility in helping to communicate the outcomes of scientific research on a broad scale is on full display in a recently published paper on the incredible value of the webinars of the Northern Grapes Project. (Hint: it's more than $3 million.)
The Northern Grapes Project, which was supported in part by NGRA, received SCRI funding for four years, beginning in 2011. It focused on new, cold-hardy cultivars that spurred development of the grape and wine industry in the upper Midwest and Northeast United States--an area comprising more than 300 wineries, 3,300 acres of grapes and 1,300 growers. The goal of the project was to enhance and support the development of these wineries and vineyards. As part of that goal, webinars were presented once monthly from November through April and recordings were archived on the  project website. In all, from 2012 to 2016, 30 webinars were delivered to a live audience of 3,083 people from 47 states and Canada, and the recorded webinars received nearly 2,400 views.
Taking into account the perceived value of the information learned and changes growers made based on those learnings, the "green impact" of remote learning (e.g., no need to travel the 147 average miles growers would have been willing to go for a similar conference or seminar) and the viewer's time investment, the Northern Grapes Project reported an eye-popping total value of nearly $3.4 million during its four years of webinar programming. That value represents 66% of the $5.1 million in SCRI grant funding the project received. And it provided a novel, comprehensive model by which other projects can calculate the value of their own webinars.  To read the paper outlining the project's webinar success,  log on to the HortTechnology website.
Although the Northern Grapes Project is officially concluded, it continues to offer informative webinars to northern growers. The next is on December 11, "Grapevine trunk diseases: The fungi that cause them, how they develop and spread, and how they are managed," led by Dr. Jose Urbez-Torres of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Sign up now. And t o learn about all upcoming Northern Grapes Project webinars, follow the project on Facebook .

The Lodi Winegrape Commission (LWC), a member of NGRA, recently was awarded
grants from the CDFA Pierce's Disease/Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Board and American Vineyard Foundation for virus research, management and outreach to "decrease vector populations; lower virus inoculum," as Dr. Stephanie Bolton, who leads the effort, says. T he focus is on grapevine leafroll associated viruses vectored by mealybugs, in particular the vine mealybug, and on grapevine red blotch virus and its presumed vector, the three-cornered alfalfa hopper. 

This month, with harvest winding down and red leaf symptoms easy to spot, the LWC swung into action with a leafroll virus tailgate talk and field day , organized by  Stephanie and grower and industry members of the Lodi Grapevine Virus Research Focus Group, and hosted  at Lange Twins Winery & Vineyards.  Vineyard Operations Manager Aaron Lange, explained the importance of the effort. "This is absolutely a grower community issue, and we all need to be on the same page," he said. "We don't want to allow a large source of virus inoculum to exist out there that can be transmitted to other vineyards."

In addition to detection and treatment, the project addresses virus-infected plant material sourced from a nursery, examples of which were shown at the event.  The LWC has drafted a document, "Nursery Ordering 101: Viruses," the first in a planned series of educational guides.
The LWC's next virus outreach meeting will be held in April 2019, focusing on mealybug and featuring  special guests Prof. Gerhard Pietersen (South Africa) and Dr. Marc Fuchs (Cornell University). The event is free and open to all. Click here for more information or contact Stephanie  with questions and/or requests for the nursery ordering guide.

USDA Issues New National IPM Roadmap
The USDA this month issued an update of the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The update culminates a yearlong review by the Federal IPM Coordinating Committee and is the first revision in five years. Download a copy.
Novel Coating Reduces Water Usage
Oregon State University Extension Service held a live webinar on October 16 featuring Dr. Clive Kaiser, presenting "Water Reduction in Wine Grapes Using HydroShield, a Novel Plant Coating." HydroShield is a plant cuticle supplement being patented by OSU. Testing of the product at Seven Hills Vineyard has resulted in at least a 25% reduction in water usage with no loss of fruit quality. The webinar is now available for playback-- watch now.
New York Defends Against Spotted Lanternfly
New York is determined to protect its wine and grape industry against the spotted lanternfly. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have coordinated a multi-agency effort to prevent, detect and respond to the threat of this new pest. And they have established a Unified Incident Command System to leverage the joint effort and organize resources and responsibilities.  Click to see the September report.

October 23, 2018 | ASEV Catalyst
Research from scientists at Cornell University shows that palissage, commonly referred to as either "tuck," where long shoot tips are tucked down into the canopy, or "wrap," wrapped horizontally along the top of the canopy, shows promise as a viable canopy management technique to hold promise to break the hedging-leaf removal cycle in vigorous vineyards.
October 22, 2018
Curious to know which states and entities have applied to host the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture? They're listed here.
October 18, 2018 | Western Farm Press
By potting vines and fulfilling long-term contracts, Jim Duarte of California's Duarte Nursery helped to revolutionize the wine grape nursery business.
October 17, 2018 | The Packer
From September 8 through October 12, more than 23 million boxes of California table grapes were shipped worldwide, setting a new five-week record. The California Table Grape Commission expects the record volumes to continue through the fall.
October 16, 2018 |
Do women care more about water issues than men? Based on analysis of polling data by experts at Texas A&M University, women reported greater average concern on every water issue. The biggest differences compared to men were in areas of water loss, climate change, conservation and affordability. Writes Manny Teodoro, associate professor of political science at A&M, "The path to building support for water systems in American communities probably starts with women."
October 10, 2018 |
The virtual new Innogrape laboratory will bring together 30 French and Chinese scientists to collaborate on creating new varieties and berry maturation mechanisms resilient to climate change. The five-year project is a partnership between the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), the University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux Sciences Agro and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
October 9, 2018 | INRA.FR
Unique for its configuration, the Toulouse Plant Microbe Phenotyping (TPMP) platform in France employs two phenotyping robots to understand the interactions between plants and their biotic environment and predict their adaptation to climatic changes. It is available to public and private labs via INRA.
October 8, 2018 |
To drone or not to drone. Jim Meyers, a viticulture extension specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension weighs in: "For me, it all boils down to: 'do I need this information to make a decision?'" he says. "And 'is the information you're going to get from the drone better information than you can get without it?'"
October 8, 2018 |
In this podcast, UC Davis' Dr. Anita Oberholster discusses the effects of smoke taint and flashes back to the California wine country wildfires of one year ago this month.
October 7, 2018 | The New York Times
A report issued this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040--a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.
October 4, 2018 | Wine Industry Insight
A picture is worth a thousand words. Weather extremes for the nation's grape-growing regions are evident in this image from the Washington Post.
October 4, 2018 | Mother Nature Network
If you're a moth, vineyards aren't the place to find Mr. or Mrs. Right. Or at least not the Ruffino vineyards in Tuscany.
October 3, 2018 |  SevenFiftyDaily
In Oregon's Columbia River Gorge, Nate Ready has planted more than 100 grape varieties on his 30-acre Hiyu Wine Farm, creating 12 complex field blends, each with a historically inspired theme. He has even grafted multiple varieties onto one plant, inspired by natural mutations. The result is a fairytale-esque vineyard that produces compelling, otherworldly wines.
October 1, 2018 | Fortune
Cognac--and other spirits--are little-cited examples of climate change. When rising temperatures force winemakers to reschedule harvest seasons, cognac producers feel the burn. They're required to make an April 1 deadline for distillation to satisfy French law defining "cognac." UV light for sanitation, water availability and conservation are concerns for wine, whiskey and more.
October 2018 | Wine Business Monthly
Many thanks to Curtis Phillips for this thoughtful editorial on why interest in and funding for research is important. He focuses on wine but the argument can be made for all grape sectors. And we couldn't agree more!

Find these stories and more, published as we find them, 

November 4-5, 2018
Fredericksburg, TX
November 6, 2018
Turlock, CA
November 7, 2018
Dobson, NC
November 9, 2018
Paso Robles, CA
November 12, 2018
NGRA End-of-Year Board Meeting
Paso Robles, CA
November 12-14, 2018
San Luis Obispo, CA
November 13, 2018
Fresno, CA
November 15, 2018
Yakima, WA
December 11, 2018
Lodi, CA
January 28, 2019
NGRA First-of-Year Board Meeting & Annual Meeting of the Members
Sacramento, CA
January 29-31, 2019
Sacramento, CA
February 11-14, 2019
Kennewick, WA
February 12-13, 2019
Portland, OR
February 27-March 1, 2019
Henrietta, NY
Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.