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

Concord juice grapes in Washington State
ZOOM! WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART
The NGRA Board of Directors meets three times each year and last week, on November 19, we convened for the last time in 2020. As with all pandemic-era meetings of far-flung people, our Board members gathered virtually, via Zoom, across all continental U.S. time zones for a very productive meeting--signaling an exciting year ahead for our research mission. What were some of the meeting highlights? Read on!
In This Issue
Most significantly, we welcomed a new At-Large Representative to our Board. Jennifer Montgomery, Consulting Director of new NGRA member-organization, the Arizona Wine Growers Association, was unanimously elected. We welcome Jennifer and the Arizona grape and wine industry and their unique research perspective to NGRA!
 
The Board also unanimously voted its support for a fellowship with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR)--a step made possible by the 2018 establishment of the NGRA Research Fund. The three-year FFAR Fellows program provides professional development and career guidance to the next generation of food and agriculture scientists. It will enable us to work with impressive Ph.D. students from the beginning of their careers, working on priority science in our research theme areas. It also will provide NGRA a new avenue to engage with the greater scientific community via FFAR, an independent nonprofit organization partially funded by the USDA that supports innovative agriculture science with the potential to fill critical knowledge gaps.
 
Similarly, recognizing the fact that many early-career scientists have joined (or initiated) grape-related research programs in the last few years (and some more established researchers have moved into new roles), our Board approved a new effort to meet and interact with them. Through a series of in-person and virtual forums throughout 2021, NGRA members will engage in two-way dialogue with these new voices in meetings, workshops and roundtables organized around timely issues-oriented themes. The series will kick off with our first Board meeting in January 2021.
 
A much-anticipated element of the End-of-Year Board meeting was the reports on the research brainstorming-and-prioritization process led by Research Theme Committee Chairs Franka Gabler (Genetics and Grapevine Improvement), Anji Perry (Natural Resources and Environment), Russ Smithyman (Integrated Production Systems) and Keith Striegler (Extension and Outreach). Meetings of the Research Theme Committees held from Summer to Fall 2020 culminated in project ideas ranging from development of an in-field fruit-quality sensor and monitoring and metrics for healthy vineyard soils to exploration of broad-spectrum grapevine immune responses and the state of viticulture and enology extension in America. These ideas will come to life in planning grant proposals in January.
 
One project that emerged from our research process in 2019 is now in the grant proposal stage, and was presented by co-PIs Matt Fidelibus (UC Davis - Kearney Agricultural Center) and Glenn McGourty (University of California Cooperative Extension - Mendocino and Lake Counties). The project, "Online Guide to Grapevine Varieties and Rootstocks in the United States," seeks to provide an online repository of variety performance data from trials across the U.S.
 
And we received a final report on the SCRI-funded Efficient Vineyard project, produced for us as a 10-minute video by PI Terry Bates (Cornell University). Supported by NGRA as a pilot study in 2012 and funded by SCRI in 2015, Efficient Vineyard focused on actualizing variable rate vineyard management by measuring (via sensors), modeling (using data) and managing (via prescription maps) throughout the season. The project officially concluded this year. The video references the Flash sensor for canopy and color development, a product of this project that's in commercial development now. And it speaks to next steps for this work as part of another NGRA-supported, newly SCRI-funded project, "High-Resolution Vineyard Nutrient Management," led by PI Markus Keller (Washington State University).
 
Administratively, the Board set both a budgetary course for 2021 and a schedule of Board meetings to include in-person gatherings as soon as June 2021 in Monterey, CA, pandemic pending. This time next year, we hope to meet in St. Louis, MO, hosted by longtime member-organization, the Missouri Wine & Grape Board. Fingers crossed!
 
As Board Chair Russ Smithyman reported, despite all the distractions and worry of 2020, NGRA accomplished a lot. My heart swelled with pride as we discussed the many ways we maintained focus on solving industry challenges through science and looked ahead to continuing and, in some cases, initiating, a sense of community among those in industry and academia who believe in the power of grape research.
 
Many thanks to our officers, Board and committee members, and stakeholders for their unwavering support in such a weird year. And here's to a happy, healthy holiday season. We have much to be thankful for.
 
Donnell Brown
President
AROUND THE INDUSTRY
COMING IN 2021: ASEV-NGRA PRECISION VITICULTURE SYMPOSIUM
A momentous topic discussed at NGRA's End-of-Year Board meeting but not referenced above is the ASEV-NGRA Precision Viticulture Symposium we're planning with the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. It's a development so big it needed its own news item! Planned for June 21-22, 2021, hopefully in person in Monterey, CA, preceding the ASEV National Conference, the event promises to pack a punch. The two-day agenda will focus on research developments in the precision management aspects of pests and diseases, crop estimation and decision support systems, and vine management, and offer grower best practices in applying precision techniques. It will feature 22 speakers from around the world, including two insightful keynoters, and one full day of tours and demos. But to make it happen, we need the help of some generous supporters! Interested in sponsoring this impactful event? Get details!
SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT FOR ASEV'S 2021 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
Interested in speaking at the American Society of Enology and Viticulture's 72nd National Conference in June 2021? Submit an abstract based on your original research and research updates in any area of viticulture or enology, or any of these additional research areas: climate and other environment issues, irrigation management, trunk disease management, vineyard wildfire prevention, and smoke impacts on grape and wine composition. Read the complete call for abstracts and submit yours online.
USDA-NIFA MOVES INTO KC LOCATION
A little over a year ago, the operations of the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) officially moved to Kansas City. In the interim, the agency filled many positions and worked to ready a new space. "And now," writes Acting NIFA Director Parag Chitnis, "our journey is culminating with the move into our permanent Kansas City location at 805 Pennsylvania Avenue in the downtown Kansas City," though he notes that NIFA's headquarters remains in the Whitten Building in Washington, D.C. After the first of the year, NIFA will host an online open house so stakeholders can take a virtual tour of the new building and meet new NIFA staff.
OHIO REGAINS GEOVINE SITE EVALUATION TOOL
Beginning in mid-December 2020, through funding provided by the Ohio Grape Industries Committee, the GeoVine application will be available to Ohio grape growers to support vineyard site evaluation for soil, climate and topographic factors from various data sources. The Center for Geospatial Information Technology at Virginia Tech will provide a live training and Q&A for Ohio stakeholders on December 15, 2020. Register here. GeoVine continues to offer site evaluations for Virginia and Maryland vineyards, as well.
SABBATICAL FOR WASHINGTON WINE PROS
If you're a Washington State wine industry professional with a thirst for knowledge and love of travel, apply for the Bill Powers Sabbatical. The Washington Wine Industry Foundation annually awards up to $5,000 to an industry pro for a sabbatical to an established wine-producing region elsewhere around the world to learn about winegrape growing and/or winemaking there. The deadline is July 30, 2021. Get more info and apply.
CALIFORNIA HAS A NEW STANDALONE AVA
The newest American Viticultural Area (AVA) in California is the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County. Spanning approximately 58,000 acres, it does not lie within or contain any other AVA. There are currently six commercial vineyards and one winery in the AVA, which officially goes into effect on December 21, 2020.  See the complete TTB ruling.
ACADEMIC JOB OPENINGS
Get your resumes ready for these plum research-related opportunities! 
  • The Department of Viticulture and Enology at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) has an opening for a tenure-track, nine-month appointment as an Assistant or Associate Professor of Viticulture. The candidate will teach viticulture-related classes, develop externally funded research and industry outreach programs, and work collaboratively with the wine and grape industry to address challenges regionally and beyond. Learn more and apply.
  • The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis has announced an Assistant Professor of Grape Breeding faculty position for a nine-month appointment in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Applications are encouraged from candidates with a strong background relevant to solving current problems in grape breeding and grape genetics. Learn more and apply.
  • Washington State University Viticulture & Enology is looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate to serve as Project Manager for the NGRA-supported, SCRI-funded project, "High-Resolution Vineyard Nutrient Management. Learn more and apply.
GROWER SURVEY: WEED MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES
A team of weed scientists from UC Davis, Oregon State University and Cornell University are asking berry, tree fruit, tree nut and vine crop growers to participate in a brief (5 to 10 minutes) anonymous survey about your weed management practices and interest in novel technologies, like vision-guided sprayers and cultivators, and electric, steam and pressurized water weeders. Take the survey now.

RESEARCH FOCUS
REPORT FINDS 10:1 ROI IN AG RESEARCH
Society gains $10 in benefits, on average, per $1 invested in international agricultural research and development, according to a new report released last month by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation.
 
The report, titled "The Payoff to Investing in CGIAR Research," focuses on the work of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), whose 15 research centers comprise the world's largest global agricultural research network. CGIAR investments of roughly $60 billion in present value in have generated a benefit-cost ratio of 10 to 1 over the past five decades, the report finds.
 
"This report shows that international agricultural R&D, of the type that drove the Green Revolution, continues to generate a fantastic rate of return and that we have not been investing nearly enough in the types of agricultural R&D undertaken by the CGIAR," says Julian M. Alston, distinguished professor of agricultural and resources economics at UC Davis and coauthor of the report with Philip G. Pardey, professor of science and technology policy and director of global research strategy at the University of Minnesota, and Xudong Rao, assistant professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University. "The same is true of agricultural R&D undertaken by U.S. land grant universities," he adds.
 
"In spite of this evidence, rather than ramping up funding, in the United States and the other high-income countries, we are seeing a decline in real funding support for public agricultural R&D and a decline in donor funding support for R&D undertaken by the CGIAR," Julian says.
 
It can take many years for the investment to pay off, from research and development to farmers applying new practices, planting new crop varieties and adopting new technology. Not investing in research will make it harder for farmers to produce the food needed (and in the case of the grape and wine industry, crop required for production) while meeting the challenges posed by weather, pests, political strife, policy risk and market risk.
 
"Agricultural R&D is slow magic," Alston said. "The costly consequences of today's policy mistakes may take some time to become apparent, but then we will have to live with them for a long time."
 
Editor's note: Although this study focuses on investments in international agriculture research and development, we believe it is a powerful statement on the value of research. Note that, by comparison, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service sets the return of each dollar it invests in agricultural research at $17 of economic impact.
 
This article was excerpted from the original. Read the full report or skim the key findings.
FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Sharpen your pencils! These grant programs have upcoming deadlines.

Cyber-Physical Systems
The core research areas of the National Science Foundation's Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program include control, data analytics, and machine learning, including real-time learning for control, autonomy, design, Internet of Things (IoT), mixed initiatives including human-in- or human-on-the-loop, networking, privacy, real-time systems, safety, security and verification. By abstracting from the particulars of specific systems and application domains, the CPS program seeks to reveal cross-cutting, fundamental scientific and engineering principles that underpin the integration of cyber and physical elements across all application domains. The application deadline is December 2, 2020. Get complete details and apply.
 
AFRI Sustainable Agricultural Systems
For the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program, USDA-NIFA seeks visionary applications that take a systems approach for projects focused on the themes in the USDA Science Blueprint: sustainable agricultural intensification, agricultural climate adaptation, value-added innovation and/or food and nutrition translation. These approaches must demonstrate current needs and anticipate future social, cultural, behavioral, economic, health and environmental impacts. Letters of intent are due January 7, 2021. Get complete details and apply.
 
Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative
USDA-NIFA's Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) seeks to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities. OREI funds projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics. Application deadline is January 14, 2021. Get complete details and apply.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative
USDA-NIFA's Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) helps to accelerate the application of scientific discovery and technology specifically for specialty crops. The program's priorities reflect the needs of specialty crops to address key challenges of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems. The pre-application deadline is January 26, 2021. Matching is required. Get complete details and apply.

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.

IN THE NEWS
SWD-killing Wasps to Make Their Debut
November 23, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
A tiny parasitoid wasp could be coming for spotted wing drosopholia next year. Native to Eastern Asia, it will be released in vineyards and orchards throughout the U.S. at the recommendation of the USDA's Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit. The release could happen in early fall 2021.

November 20, 2020 | Democrat & Chronicle
The spotted lanternfly has reached New York. Adults and egg masses have been found in Finger Lakes Wine Country, as well as infestations in Rockland and Orange Counties.
 
November 17, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
After more than 20 years, the final two wine grape varieties developed by the late James Moore of the University of Arkansas have names! Thanks to John Clark, they are now christened Indulgence, a white grape with a Muscat flavor, and Dazzle, a pink-skinned grape that produces a white wine with Gew├╝rztraminer-like characteristics.
 
November 8, 2020 | The Wine Write
The National Grape Research Alliance and our President Donnell Brown were featured this month by Randy Smith, the Wine Write. "You don't have to do much personal research to see the needs that NGRA helps fill. Pick up your newspaper. There are issues that impact the grape industry everywhere you look," he writes.
 
November 5, 2020 | Wine Business Monthly
"Sometimes it's just obvious: the rootstock is not appropriate for the site," says vineyard consultant Mark Greenspan. There's no cost-effective way to remedy a poor choice of rootstock, he adds, "so make sure it's going to work." Here, he gives examples of what can go wrong.
 
November 3, 2020 | Growing Produce
The big Cornell "C" that Terry Bates and team farmed into the one of the research blocks at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory shows the power of precision viticulture and serves as the larger-than-life trademark of the Efficient Vineyard project.

November 3, 2020 | Wired
What it's like, flying a "science plane" through wildfire smoke? University of Washington atmospheric scientist Brett Palm says, "It smells like you're flying through a campfire. It's an exciting way of doing science because the reactions are happening right in front of you. And you're measuring them happening in real time in the atmosphere."

November 2, 2020 | Good Fruit Grower
Following the discovery of phylloxera in traditionally own-rooted vineyards in Washington, new research funded by the Washington Wine Commission aims to improve detection, determine the scope and severity of the phylloxera infestations, and provide cultural and chemical management strategies, NGRA Board member Melissa Hansen reports.

November 2, 2020 | SARE
While many farmers struggle to manage weeds, one grape grower used a grant from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) to test grazing sheep for pest management, and they're seeing many whole-farm benefits. It's one story (on page 8) in SARE's new bulletin, "A Whole Farm Approach to Managing Pests."

November 2020 | Plant Physiology and Biochemistry
New research from Spain shows that a CO2 storage treatment for table grapes, specifically Autumn Royal, can preserve flavor, color and quality postharvest.
 
October 30, 2020 | The Global Plant Council
Breakthrough! Scientists in Italy have isolated a peptide aptamer (a synthetic protein that can bind and inhibit a specific protein) that can target a key enzyme that causes downy mildew (a widespread and costly problem for grape growers worldwide) and therefore block the infection. The work is part of the GrAptaResistance project, investigating the use of these peptide aptamers as alternatives to conventional fungicides.
 
October 28, 2020 | Buckeye Appellation
The Ohio Department of Agriculture confirmed that a population of spotted lanternfly was found near Steubenville. One was dead; five live specimens were captured.
 
October 26, 2020 | MDPI
The Digital Agriculture Lab at UC Davis is leading research to use machine learning and multispectral imagery to estimate nitrogen in grape leaves. Their goal is develop a predictive model to improve fertilizer use efficiency, crop yield and quality, and vineyard uniformity.
 
October 24, 2020 | Wine-Searcher
Mostly, we talk about insects as pests. But here's a great reminder that some bugs aid in vineyard and soil health, serving as bio-controls and pollinators, breaking down organic matter and promoting biodiversity.                            
 
October 20, 2020 | Wine Industry Advisor
Cheers to Whitehall Lane Winery, the first to release commercial wines made from two of the Pierce's Disease-resistant winegrape varieties developed by the Walker Lab at UC Davis. They are bottled as single-varietal wines--2019 Camminare Noir and 2019 Paseante Noir--and were aged in custom American oak barrels to suit their distinct characteristics.
 
October 14, 2020 | American Vineyard Magazine
UC Agriculture & Natural Resources' Lynn Wunderlich is part of a national team seeking to ID the vector(s) for grapevine red blotch associated virus. They're using sticky traps and the "D-Vac," a modified leafblower that sucks up insects from infected grapevine canopies, to sample for suspects.
 
October 7, 2020 | Western Farm Press
Ever wonder what microshoot tip therapy is and how it's used? UC Davis Foundation Plant Services' Sue Sim explains its use in virus elimination. "Basically, (it) takes the smallest growing tip you can manage to excise out of a plant and then have it grow into a whole new plant. During that process, because viruses do not infect cells as fast as they grow in the shoot tip, most of the time you lose the virus infection in the process."
 
October 1, 2020 | Vineyard Team
Is hemp taint a thing? Listen to this Vineyard Team podcast as George Sellu of Santa Rosa Junior College explains the nuances of hemp production in wine country, including how volatile aroma profiles vary by variety, the lack of studies to show if/how their volatiles impact grapes, wind influence drift of volatile compounds and more.
 
October 2020 | Smithsonian Magazine
The spotted lanternfly is "ruinous and beautiful, the size of your thumb and a destroyer of worlds." In one example of the invasive pest's destruction, this article cites soaring lanternfly-related expenses--inspections alone cost one Pennsylvania nursery $75,000 a year.
 
September 8, 2020 | Gallup
Farmers, pat yourselves on the back. This survey of Americans' views of various industries reveals that farming and agriculture are viewed more positively than any other sector! The distinction of worst-rated goes to the federal government.
 
A Novel Grape Downy Mildew Resistance Locus from Vitis Rupestris
August 20, 2020 | American Journal of Enology and Viticulture
Breakthrough! A group of researchers on the VitisGen2 team has discovered a genetic locus from Vitis rupestris for downy mildew resistance. The team also captured marker info for the introgression of the V. rupestris haplotype into cultivated grape varieties.
 
June 11, 2019 | FiveThirtyEight
"Can you turn raisins back into grapes?" asks Kara H., age 7. We adults know the answer is no. But you can plump them back up again (and make some interesting homebrew in the process).

Find these stories and more, published daily, on NGRA's Facebook and Twitter feeds.

UPCOMING EVENTS
December 1, 2020
Oregon State University Grape Red Blotch Disease Webinar Series
Sam Hoffman

December 2, 2020
Franka Gabler, California Table Grape Commission

December 2, 9 and 16, 2020
Virtual event

December 8, 2020
Oregon State University Grape Red Blotch Disease Webinar Series
Michael Qian


December 15, 2020
Oregon State University Grape Red Blotch Disease Webinar Series
OWRI Red Blotch Study Team

January 18-22, 2021
Virtual event

January 20, 2021
Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) Webinar Series
Clark Seavert, Oregon State University


January 26-29, 2021
Virtual event

February 2, 2021
Lodi, CA

February 9-11, 2021
Virtual event

February 16-19, 2021
Virtual event

Find all upcoming events on the NGRA website.