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   August 2015                           Common Ground; Innovative Research                  NGWI.ORG

In This Issue

Calendar of Events

NGWI Meeting of the Members and Winter Meeting of the Board of Directors
January 25, 2016
Sacramento, CA

Unified Wine and Grape Symposium
January 26-28, 2016
Sacramento, CA

Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers 2016 Annual Meeting and Trade Show
February 8-12, 2016
Kennewick, WA

Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association Annual Conference
February 18-20, 2016
Frisco, Texas

Oregon Wine Symposium
February 23-24, 2016
Portland, OR

Eastern Winery Exposition
March 9-11, 2016
Lancaster, PA

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The National Grape and Wine Initiative focuses on research and extension to strengthen the US grape and grape product industries in partnership with academics and government. Grapes are the nation's leading specialty crop and all industry segments including raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine created the NGWI coalition to drive research for maximum productivity, sustainability and competitiveness. NGWI aims to lead the world in consumer value and quality.  

NGWI Board Convenes in Washington to Tour Research Facilities at Washington State University

NGWI members and guests at Columbia Crest Winery
The NGWI summer Board meeting was held July 15th and 16th in Washington State, hosted at the newly-constructed St. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center in Richland and the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser. The Board had the opportunity to visit and tour both campuses along with vineyards of St. Michelle Wine Estates where field trials are currently in process.

Dr. James Harbertson
Associate Professor
of Enology 
Jim Harbertson led the tour through the 40,000-square-foot facility, explaining that the research and teaching conducted at the Wine Science Center will focus on challenges and opportunities faced by grape growers and winemakers in the Pacific Northwest. Washington State's grape and wine industry aims to triple its annual economic impact from $8.6 billion to $25.8 billion by 2020. The state's wineries and vineyards donated the first $7.4 million in 2011, which started the successful fundraising drive. The center was built on land donated by the Port of Benton, and construction was overseen by the city of Richland.
Gary Grove hosted a tour of WSU-IAREC.  It is the central point for the University, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture research, extension, and plant certification programs that address the concerns of irrigated agriculture. Approximately two-thirds of the agricultural production in the state comes from irrigated land, making such research of vital interest to Washington's economy, both for intrastate distribution and exportation.
While at the IAREC, Markus Keller (Scientist/Professor Chateau Ste. Michelle Distinguished Professor of Viticulture, WSU) and Michelle Moyer (Assistant Professor/Extension Viticulturist, WSU) also explained some of their on-going work on cold
Michelle Moyer and
Markus Keller
tolerance, where they have developed a process of differential thermal 
analysis of over 20 grape varieties. This analysis is based on the fact that plant tissues give off a blast of heat right before they freeze (the so-called "heat of freezing.") Grape growers can log into their site, and look up the impact of cold temperatures in the varieties they grow during the dormant period. Markus Keller has applied for a Specialty Crop Research in Grant to conduct more in-depth studies of cold tolerance in grapes and will learn whether that project has been funded by October 1st.

Yun Zhang explains
her irrigation trials
Touring vineyards near Paterson, Markus Keller and Yun Zhang (Postdoctoral Research Associate, WSU) demonstrated irrigation trials underway to determine the impacts of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on white wines. Funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from Washington State, these trials are considered an important step in dealing with bitterness and astringency of white wine grape varieties, since most of the previous work on RDI has been conducted in red varieties.

Dr. Zhang also demonstrated her trials of partial root zone drying (PRD), another deficit irrigation method. Under PRD, different sides of the vine are alternately irrigated, spatially separating the root zone. The roots of the vines are exposed to both wet and dry soil. Each side is alternately irrigated, generally every five days to two weeks, depending on the site and weather. On the dry side, the vine reacts to water stress by slowing vegetative growth, while the vine is maintained by moisture on the irrigated side. Zhang indicated that PRD works best in deep, sandy loam soils. She has found that partial root zone drying can be more flexible in the timing of irrigation, as well as more forgiving if irrigation is late compared to regulated deficit irrigation. On the other hand, it can be m ore expensive to set up the irrigation system, because it requires separate drip irrigation lines on each side of the vine. 
Improving Crop Estimation Accuracy through Spatial Vineyard Sensor Measurement

Over the past three months, researchers from Cornell and Carnegie Mellon Universities have been in California and New York vineyards testing the use of  proximal soil, canopy, and crop sensors to collect and process spatial information for more efficient vineyard management. Funded by a coalition of members of NGWI, last year Dr. Terry Bates and Dr. Stephen Nuske worked to improve the robustness of a novel image analysis system and increased the speed at which data could be collected and processed. They also collected spatial soil, canopy, and crop data in five commercial test vineyards and integrated the data to develop vineyard management maps.

The focus for this year's NGWI-funded pilot project is two-fold: Improving the crop-imaging tool and evaluating the effective use of the multi-sensor platform in crop estimation. The novel crop-imaging system developed through earlier work is an important tool for non-destructive crop measurement. However, the 2014 research shows the potential of improving crop estimation when multiple sensor information is integrated into the sampling and measurement process.  

Grapes automatically sized (berry diameter) using CMU image analysis software
Past developments with the crop image analysis focused on detecting and counting individual berries and correlating detected berry number with final crop weight. In 2015, Bates and Nuske are incorporating berry size to their image analysis with the expectation the combination of berry count and berry size will correlate higher with harvest crop weight data.
In sprawling canopies where leaves occlude the fruit, they are also attempting early season floret counting before substantial leaf expansion. They continued this work on early season measurements in juice grapes since they have found this to be an unpredictable time to plan experiments, and the proximity between CMU and Cornell's research vineyards makes that work amenable to conducting at Cornell. They believe the clusters before bloom in Concord have similar appearance to most grape varieties, so once this early season measurement is perfected in NY they believe it will translate directly to other varieties.

They are also expanding and testing their image analysis system in measuring the various components of yield: shoot number, cluster number, berry number, berry size (diameter), and berry color.
Stages of growth targeted for sensor trials. Early season shoot count, early season cluster count, post-fruit set berry count and late season crop quality/size assessment 
Next steps: In addition to conducting this industry-funded proof-of-concept work, Bates and Nuske have applied for $6.2 million in a grant under the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. If funded, that project would include additional university and industry collaborators, and far more work to develop algorithms to interpret field measurements. In addition, working with an Advisory Panel from the grape industry, the work would analyze the economic impact of more accurate crop estimation, and test the benefits of variable rate vineyard management. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to announce SCRI grants around October 1st.
VitisGen Project Highlights and News

Dear VitisGen Project Directors, Collaborators, and Industry Advisory Panel Members  

Many of us are preparing to attend, or have attended professional society meetings this summer. VitisGen research is being 
reported in many of these venues.
Lindsay Springer 

Earlier this year, we noted that Lindsay Springer (Cornell PhD student with Gavin Sacks) won an award for her presentation "Of Terroir and Tannins: The Role of Pathogenesis-Related Proteins in Red Wine Astringency" at the American Chemical Society meeting. Now we are also happy to report that Lindsay won the Best Enology Student Oral Presentation Award at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture 66th National Conference, held in June in Portland, Oregon. Her presentation was entitled "Limits on Red Wine Tannin Extraction and Addition Part II: Role of Pathogenesis-Related Proteins in Terroir". Congrats, Lindsay!

An important product of the VitisGen Genetics Team has just been published (August 5) online in PLOS One. This paper describes the software pipeline developed to simplify genetic mapping using genotyping-by-sequencing technology for heterozygous crops such as grapes. We anticipate a great deal of interest in this paper. Congratulations team!
Heterozygous Mapping Strategy (HetMappS) for High Resolution Genotyping-By-Sequencing Markers: A Case Study in Grapevine

At Geneva, USDA and Cornell researchers are hosting the biennial meeting of the North American Grape Breeders group, August 27 and 28. Despite the "name" of this conference, we are expecting researchers from Switzerland and South Africa to be in attendance! Maybe other countries will be represented in the final attendance list. VitisGen research will be featured prominently in presentations to be made by local as well as out of town attendees.

Bruce Reisch, Lance Cadle-Davidson and Elizabeth Takacs