Research Projects Underway - 2013
VitisGen is a project with a total of $10 million dedicated to accelerating grape cultivar improvement via phenotyping centers and next generation markers. The federal component of the funding for the project ($4.5 million) was received from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The research team led by Drs. Bruce Reisch and Lance Cadle-Davidson will focus on identifying several traits: powdery mildew resistance, low temperature responses, and fruit quality. The project is looking to “map the way to the next generation of grapes”.
Powdery mildew affects vineyards worldwide, resulting in reduced yields, stunted growth and lower fruit quality. New resistant varieties will help to improve vineyards’ sustainability by reducing fungicide applications and preventing the development of resistance to available treatments.
Low temperatures impact the range and growing season of grapes. Improved cold tolerance and budbreak timing could allow for greater adaptability to a changing climate and the development of economically significant grape-based industries in new regions of the US.
Grape varieties that can resist disease and tolerate cold weather may be associated with undesirable aromas/flavors. Identification of varieties that have advantageous traits coupled with high fruit quality will lead to better grapes for wine, juice, raisins, and fresh fruit.
The goals of the VitisGen Project are:
• To identify high priority vine performance and fruit quality traits with documented
economic value to the grape industry and to the consumer.
• To discover, identify, and improve these high priority traits using both traditional and
modern biological approaches.
• To enhance communication regarding the value of improved knowledge of grape genomics,
new varieties, new technologies, and the evolving needs of the grape industry and
To date a number of meetings have been held with the project team and industry representatives, who provide ongoing technical advice, to discuss accomplishments and review progress. The most recent team report is available here. Visit the VitisGen website for complete project information. http://www.vitisgen.org
New Detection, Research and Extension Tools for Managing Wood-canker Diseases of Fruit and Nut Crops
Lead Authors - Drs. Kendra Baumgartner and Themis Michailides
Grant Amount - $1.8 million in -SCRI Continuation Grant total $4.3 million funded through SCRI
A multi-crop (grape, pistachio and almond) project was funded in 2012 to tackle trunk diseases, the leading reason for vineyard removal in many parts of the country. Because the industry lacks disease diagnostic tools (other than saws) it is estimated that these diseases result in losses of over $200 million each year. NGWI helped craft a winning planning grant from SCRI, with which Dr. Themis Michailides (UC Davis-Kearney in Parlier), Dr. Kendra Baumgartner (ARS) pulled together a trans-disciplinary team to develop diagnostic tools and eventually, measures to reduce the impact of diseases including Eutypa and Botryosphaeria. NGWI members committed well over $2,000,000 in land match annually, with wine grapes from five different regions, and table grapes from two. NGWI members also agreed to serve on the project’s advisory board.
Developing Sustainable Vineyard Water Management Strategies for Limited and Impaired Water Supplies
Lead Authors - Drs. Jim Ayars and Andrew McElrone
Grant Amount - $2.7 Million
In 2010, a major NGWI priority research proposal was awarded an SCRI grant to develop sustainable vineyard water management strategies for limited and impaired water supplies. The thrust of the research will focus on water management to determine the water requirement for wine, table, juice, and raisin grapes; salinity management in water limited conditions; and plant breeding to select for salinity and drought tolerance. The economic impacts of various findings will be evaluated and there will be a strong emphasis on meaningful two-way communication with industry stakeholders.
The project research and Extension team includes three research units at 3 locations: Parlier, Riverside and Davis, but project collaboration will include researchers in California, Oregon & Washington State.
View complete project details here.
Improved Grape and Wine Quality in a Challenging Environment: An Eastern US Model for Sustainability and Economic Vitality
Lead Authors - Dr. Tony Wolf, Virginia Tech
Grant Amount - $3,796,693
NGWI also supported Dr. Tony Wolf of Virginia Tech on a successful SCRI grant application for an East Coast vineyard project. The specific objectives of the project include developing applied means of achieving vine balance under variable growing conditions (VA, NY, and NC); developing canopy and crop management metrics to achieve consistent vine balance and canopy microclimate; and capitalizing on regional wine style through market analysis.
This 5-year, standard research and extension project involves 7 institutions and 20 co-PIs, started as an SCRI planning grant at Cornell in FY 2009.
Lead Author - Drs. Debra Keast and Carla McGill
Grant Amount - $40,000
Grape Consumption Associated with Healthier Eating Patterns in U.S. Children and Adults
In a new observational study presented October 8, 2012 at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition (FNCE) in Philadelphia, PA, researchers looked at the association of grape consumption, in the non-alcoholic forms most commony consumed - fresh grapes, raisins and 100% grape juice - with diet quality in a recent, nationally representative sample of U.S. children and adults. Their findings suggest that, among adults and children, consumption of grapes and grape products is associated with healthier dietary patterns and increased nutrient intake.
Researchers analyzed the diets of more than 21,800 children and adults using data from the 2003-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) and found that the consumers of grapes and grape products had increased intakes of total and whole fruit, as well as dietery fiber, calcium, magnesium and vitamins A, C, and B6, versus nonconsumers. Dietary fiber, calcium and potassium are especially important, as most Americans are currently not getting enough of these important nutrients in their daily diets.
To view a copy of the poster presented by Dr. Carla McGill, click here.
This epidemiology study was follow up to publication of a supplement in the Journal of Nutrition in 2009 examining research showing that grapes and grape products may play a key role in optimizing health by mediating beneficial biological responses. That vast array of naturally occurring plant chemicals in grapes and grape products are thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects observed. The potential areas of beneficial impact include cardiovascular health, cognitive function in older people, cancer, inflammation, diabetes, and dental health.
Process Water Specialty Crop Block Grant
Lead Authors - Dr. Gour Choudhury, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Grant Amount - $900,000
NGWI sponsored a successful California Specialty Crop Block grant application for a project designed to reduce the volume and salinity of process water used in wineries and other food processing facilities. The two-year project, led by Dr. Gour Choudhury at CSU Fresno, includes collaborators from the Wine Institute, California League of Food Processors, and the Sustainable Wine Alliance. The first steps include: creating a survey instrument to understand current practices; reaching out to cleaning material suppliers for collaboration and support; and testing current practices to measure effectiveness and waste stream. The facilities involved include Wawona Frozen Foods, E&J Gallo Winery, and Sun-Maid Raisins. Eco-Lab has agreed to collaborate and plans are underway to approach Johnson Diversity. An important aspect of this project will be working with cleaning product manufacturers to re-formulate “green chemistry” products. An additional $450,000 was awarded in 2012 bringing the total grant amount to $900,000.
Grape Community of Practice: eXtension
Lead Author - Dr. Eric Stafne, Oklahoma State
Grant Amount - $400,000
In this project, awarded to Dr. Eric Stafne, the Grape Community of Practice will provide the platform through which all future grape projects will be disseminated. To date, GCoP has 54 members, representing 24 states, 85 articles completed, and 102 FAQs, all of which have been peer reviewed and many of which will be translated into Spanish. The portal for the GCoP is eviticulture.org. The GCoP includes linkage to other information sites across the country, including Dr. Ed Hellman’s popular “grape doctor.” One of the remaining issues will be continuing funding, with grant funding continuing through September of 2012. Funding options include an additional SCRI grant, industry sponsorships, and fees on other AFRI and SCRI proposals.
Northern Grapes: Integrating viticulture, winemaking, and marketing of new cold hardy cultivars supporting new and growing rural wineries
Lead Author - Tim Martinson, Cornell University
Grant Amount - $2,500,000
This project has brought together 34 researchers from 12 institutions to address varietal performance and resulting fruit and wine flavor attributes in cold climates. It will help growers to apply appropriate viticultural practices to achieve consistent fruit characteristics for ripening, and help winemakers address their unique fruit composition to produce distinctive wines that consumers will like and purchase. The project will also explore consumer preferences, developing individual/regional marketing strategies to increase sales and sustained profitability of wineries and vineyards.
For more information on these projects you may contact the Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jim Ayars or Dr. Andrew McElrone
Dr. Tony Wolf
Dr. Gour Choudhury
Dr. Eric Stafne
Summary of NGWI Research Projects