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   October 2015                           Common Ground; Innovative Research                  NGWI.ORG

In This Issue

Calendar of Events

North Carolina Winegrowers Association Annual Conference
January 22-24, 2016
Winston-Salem, NC

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 Announces $6 Million Federal Research Grant to Transform U.S. Vineyard Management

Goundbreaking Technology Expected to Help Farmers Accurately Predict Crop Yield, Precisely Manage Resources

The National Grape & Wine Initiative (NGWI) announced today it helped secure $6 million over four years in federal funding for research to develop and apply new technologies to transform the way grapes are grown throughout the United States.

Funding comes from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's (NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which just released the first continuation grant installment of $2,357,674
Dr. Stephen Nuske and
 Dr. Terry Bates
Led by award-winning scientists Drs. Terry Bates of Cornell University and Stephen Nuske of Carnegie Mellon University, the research project will focus on using technology to create digital maps that will allow farmers to zero in on the conditions within their vineyards and significantly enhance their ability to predict crop size, according to Jean-Mari Peltier, President of NGWI.
"This project will build on the work of an industry funded pilot project that demonstrated tremendous promise in developing tools for precision vineyard management," Peltier said. "We believe it will lead to the commercialization of hardware and software that will benefit growers of wine, juice, raisin and table grapes, nationwide." 

Employing both novel and off-the-shelf sensor technologies, the industry pilot project has resulted in the ability to create digital management maps of soil, canopy and the crop. Of particular note is the new prototype crop estimation tool, which can be attached to common vineyard equipment and takes thousands of images per minute, providing a far more accurate view of grape clusters. 

"It is impossible to overstate the value this technology will provide in improving grape farmers' ability to apply the right management practices at the right time and right place in their vineyards," said Peltier. "Our goal is to increase vineyard production by 20 percent and decrease vineyard variability by 30 percent."
The combined data holds the promise of providing a wealth of information to farmers, including data about crop yield, soil conditions, irrigation and fertilization needs; canopy growth and the color and maturity of grapes. Additionally, digital mapping can help farmers balance quality and quantity of their crops; manage and direct harvesting operations; and help them pinpoint the varying soil conditions and needs throughout their vineyards.

"This project exemplifies what the specialty crop industry has been looking for from SCRI," said John Aguirre, President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, and Chairman of the NGWI Board. "Because of grower involvement from day one, it reflects an industry-driven research agenda to ensure the outcome will be relevant and valuable to the nation's grape growers and ultimately American consumers."
NGWI members, he said, worked with government officials to create a new two-step review process for SCRI: an industry relevancy review followed by a scientific peer review. This new approach helps ensure that projects funded are of value to industry and are scientifically sound.  

"We greatly appreciate the fact that this grant was developed as a partnership between growers and scientists and that through the new SCRI review process, it was evaluated by both groups," Aguirre said. "We believe it has the potential to serve as a model for other competitive grants administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)."
In addition to Cornell and Carnegie Mellon, the project will also receive support and involvement of experts from the University of California at Davis and Newcastle University in England.

The Clean Plant Center Network Northwest at WSU-Prosser is Seeking to Fill Director Position
The Clean Plant Center Northwest (CPCNW) is seeking applications for the Director position. CPCNW is based at Washington State University's Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (WSU-IAREC) in Prosser, Washington.
CPCNW is a collaborative effort of scientists, researchers, nurseries and growers. Working together to increase the economic sustainability of specialty crop production in the United States.
The CPCNW, offers clean plant services for fruit trees, grapes and hops. They have several different methods of diagnosing a wide range of virus and virus-like diseases. The facilities provide places to diagnose, clean and store virus-tested trees and plants.
A major component of their effort is to work with Clean Plant Centers around the U.S. to keep agriculture growing strong by providing commercial agriculture with healthy virus-tested planting material.
The position announcement may be found here.