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Winter Cold Damage Revisited

By Bryan Hed

Since the new year was ushered in we have had several scary moments when Mother Nature unleashed an “excess of personality.” I’m referring to the cold weather events we experienced around January 1, 7, and 14, when temperatures slipped down below zero in many places across Pennsylvania, even in some south central parts of the state. As many of you might remember, the last time we saw below zero temperatures that far south (February from hell, 2015) primary bud damage was widespread and grapevine trunks in vineyards all over Pennsylvania (and certainly other parts of the Northeast) exploded in crown gall the following spring. This generated a two-year trunk renewal process that we’ve only just recovered from. Therefore, this may be a good time to review grapevine winter hardiness and the factors that affect it, as well as how we can prepare for possible remediation pruning and renewal this spring.

Now I don’t want to raise alarm bells just yet, as the conditions we’ve experienced this January haven’t been as horrific as February of 2015. But it’s always good to be prepared for any potential consequences, like bud loss and trunk damage, so we can anticipate altering our winter pruning plans and production practices this season.

Let’s start with a review of the temperature stats available to everyone on the NEWA website (newa.cornell.edu) and see just how cold it got in various places across the state during the first half of January. In the table below, I’ve listed low temperatures for January 1, 7, and 14 for many of the NEWA locations. Starting at northeastern PA and moving counterclockwise to swing back up into northern New Jersey and finally western New York, we get the following data (Table 1).

Screenshot 2018-01-20 07.11.38

Areas of southeastern and northwestern Pennsylvania, at opposite corners of the state, appear to have escaped the below-zero temperatures for the most part, but some areas of south central Pennsylvania took a hit (look at York Springs). Areas of southwestern Pennsylvania experienced some of the most extended periods of below-zero weather, and parts of northeastern and central Pennsylvania also got quite cold. The temperature low is the most important bit to consider when sizing up vine bud damage, but the duration of those lows can affect the extent of trunk damage, especially in big old trunks where it may take longer for the core to reach ambient temperatures. Up in the northwestern corner of the state, the buffering effect of Lake Erie probably played a role in our relatively mild temperatures during that period, and we expect little to no damage to most of our vines as our wine industry there is heavily invested in tougher hybrids. The Erie area was also blessed (?) with a heap of snow (10 feet!) before the cold snap that provided added protection to bud unions of grafted vines.

If you’re anticipating primary bud damage, here’s a review of the ranges of temperatures for the LT50 (low temperature at which 50% of primary buds fail to survive) for the cultivars you’re growing. For Vitis vinifera, the LT50 range of the most winter sensitive cultivars falls between 5o and -5oF. This includes cultivars like Merlot and Syrah. But for most cultivars of V. vinifera, LT50 values fall more in the 0o to -8oF range (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Gewurztraminer). And finally, there’s the tougher V. vinifera and sensitive hybrids that have buds with LT50 values of -5o to -10oF. This includes cultivars like Riesling, Cabernet franc, Lemberger, and Chambourcin. On the flip side, most hybrids fall into the -10o to -15oF range (which is why Northeastern U.S. vineyards are perhaps still more invested in hybrids than V. vinifera). Then there are the V. labrusca (Concord) and the Minnesota hybrids that range from -15o down to -30oF for cultivars like Frontenac and LaCrescent. Unfortunately, we don’t have such helpful ranges for determining trunk damage, which often comes with more profound consequences and is costlier to address.

Rapid temperature drops are often the most devastating in terms of the extent of damage. Fortunately, December temperatures this winter descended very gradually giving vines time to fully acclimate to cold weather extremes. In fact, recent data from the Cornell research group in the Finger Lakes region of New York shows that LT50 values for primary buds of several cultivars were close to, or at, maximum hardiness. Therefore, it is hoped that many Northeastern U.S. vineyards were well prepped and close to their hardiest when these cold events occurred. On the other hand, any given cultivar in central New York is likely to be a bit more cold hardy than that same cultivar growing in southern Pennsylvania, simply because vines farther north will have accumulated more cooling units than those farther south. So there is the possibility of bud and—worse yet—trunk damage in parts of PA, to the more sensitive cultivars of V. vinifera.

We also had a balmy warm period during the second week in January that pumped temperatures up into the 60s in some places before plunging back down into single digits. However, it’s unlikely the brief warm period was long enough to cause any deacclimation of vines before cold temperatures resumed, and little, if any harm, is expected from that event.

The capacity for cold hardiness is mostly determined by genetics. As I alluded to above, V. vinifera cultivars are generally the most sensitive to cold winter temperature extremes, French hybrids are generally hardier, and native V. labrusca cultivars are often the toughest. Nevertheless, other site specific factors can come into play to affect cold hardiness, and this is often the reason for the range in the LT50 values. For example, there’s vine health to consider; vines that finished the season with relatively disease-free canopies and balanced crop levels can be expected to be hardier (within their genetic range) than vines that were over-cropped and/or heavily diseased. At times like these, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to maintain your vines and production strategy with a view to optimizing their chances of surviving every winter. Other stresses like drought or flooded soils (during the growing season) that we can’t do much to control, and infection by leafroll viruses, can also play a significant role in reducing vine cold hardiness.

If you suspect damage, you should delay winter pruning of your vines, according to Dr. Michela Centinari. Feel free to revisit her previous blog posts and others at psuwineandgrapes.wordpress.com. Type “cold hardiness” or “winter injury” into the search box, and you’ll quickly and easily gain access to several timely blogs.

Bud damage can be estimated from 100 nodes collected from each potentially compromised vineyard block. Typically, gather ten, 10-node canes from each area, but do not sample from blocks randomly, unless the block is relatively uniform. If a block is made up of pronounced low and high areas (or some other site feature that would affect vine health and bud survival) make sure you sample from those areas separately as they will likely have experienced different temperature lows (Zabadal et al. 2007). You may find that vines in high areas need no or less special pruning consideration than vines in low areas that suffered more primary bud damage and will require increased remediation.

Once you have your sample, bring the canes inside to warm up a bit and make cuts (with a razor blade) through the cross section of the bud to reveal the health (bright green) or death (brown) of primary, secondary, and tertiary buds. You’ll need a magnifying glass to make this determination as you examine each bud. You should figure that primaries will contribute two thirds of your crop and secondaries, one third when considering how many “extra” buds to leave during pruning. And remember that some bud damage, up to 15% or so, is normal. If you’ve lost a third of your primaries, leave a third more nodes as you do your dormant pruning. If you’ve lost half your primaries, double the nodes you leave, and so on. However, when bud mortality is very high (more than half the primary buds are dead), it may not be cost effective to do any dormant pruning as it is likely there are more sinister consequences afoot, like severe trunk damage that is much harder to quantify. A “wait and see” strategy, or at least very minimal pruning, may be best for severely injured vines (Figure 1) and trunk damage will manifest itself in spring by generating excessive sucker growth (Figure 2). And one more thing: Secondary buds are often more hardy than primaries, may have survived to a larger extent, and in some cultivars, can be incredibly fruitful. This is especially true of some hybrid varieties like DeChaunac. So, to make more informed decisions when winter damage is suspected, you have to know the fruitful potential of your cultivar; and in cases where primary bud mortality is high, it’s therefore important to also assess the mortality of secondary buds.

Screenshot 2018-01-20 07.07.06.png

Another great fear is the appearance of crown gall, mainly at the base of trunks. This disease is caused by a bacterium that lives in the vine. However, the bacterium generally doesn’t cause gall formation on trunks until some injury occurs, usually from severe winter cold damage near the soil line or just above grafts on grafted vines (if you hilled over the grafts last fall). Another search at psuwineandgrapes.wordpress.com will bring up information on how to deal with this disease.  You can also visit What we have learned about crown gall for an update on research into this disease from Dr. Tom Burr and his research group at Cornell University. Tom has devoted a lifetime to researching grape crown gall and many advances have been made over the years. But it’s still a huge problem for Northeastern U.S. grape growers; and crown gall problems will likely increase as our industry becomes more and more heavily invested in the most susceptible cultivars of V. vinifera.

With more sensitive detection methods, Tom’s group is getting us closer and closer to crown gall-free mother vines and planting stock, but they’re also discovering that the crown gall bacterium is everywhere grapevines are located. Not restricted to internal grapevine tissues; it’s also found on external surfaces of cultivated and wild grapevines. So, clean planting stock may still acquire the pathogen internally down the road and management of crown gall, once vines are infected, will continue to be an important part of life in any vineyard that experiences cold winter temperature extremes. However, there is potential for a commercial product that inhibits gall formation, which can be applied to infected vines. The product is actually a non-gall-forming, non-root-necrotizing version of the crown gall bacterium that is applied to grape wounds and inhibits the gall-forming characteristic of the pathogenic strains of the bacterium. This product is still under development in lab and greenhouse tests, awaiting field nursery trials soon.

If you do happen to meet up with some crown gall development this spring, galled trunks can be nursed through the 2018 season to produce at least a partial crop while you train up suckers (from below the galls) as renewal trunks. When our Chancellor vineyard was struck with widespread crown gall in the 2015 season, we were able to harvest a couple of decent sized crops while trunk renewal was taking place (Figure 2), and we never went a single season without some crop. There’s also the issue of crop insurance to think of; adjusters may want you to leave damaged trunks in place so they can more accurately document the economic damage from winter cold.

Screenshot 2018-01-20 07.07.34

Lastly, a great guide to grapevine winter cold damage was published about 10 years ago by several experts. In fact, information from that guide was used in composing large parts of this blog and I highly recommend you read it. It’s an excellent publication, the result of many years of outstanding research by a number of leading scientists and extension specialists from all over the Northeastern U.S. The details of that publication are found below and you can purchase a hard copy for 15 bucksby clicking here: Winter Injury to Grapevines and Methods of Protection (E2930).

For those of you who can spend hours reading off of a computer screen without going blind, you can also access a web version of the document at msue.anr.msu.edu/uploads/files/e2930.pdf.

Zabadal, TJ, Dami, IE, Goiffinet, MC, Martinson, TE, and Chien, ML. 2007. Winter injury to grapevines and methods of protection. Extension Bulletin E2930. Michigan University Extension

Grapevine cold injury, end of the season considerations

By: Michela Centinari

I imagine as winter approaches one thought on every grower’s mind is: “Is this winter going to be anything like the previous one?”

The winter of 2013/2014 was one of the most severe since 1994 and we can hope another 20 years or more pass before we must endure another of the same magnitude. The extent of damage and crop loss varied among regions, individual vineyard sites, wine grape varieties (Figure 1) and the health of the vines going into the cold season. In this regard, during a vineyard visit in Chester County (Southeast Pennsylvania) in August, a grower pointed out a block of Cabernet Franc (Vitis vinifera L.) vines with winter cold injury symptoms. The vines had a healthy green canopy but, surprisingly, no clusters. That was unusual because other Cabernet Franc vines in the area were fine. However, the grower highlighted that those vines had already experienced severe frost damage in the previous spring (2013). Frost damage may contribute to a low overwinter carbohydrate reserve and negatively affect bud cold hardiness as well as the development of shoots and inflorescences in the following spring. Concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates are closely related with cold hardiness in grapevine buds and canes [1].

Figure 1. Cold damage at Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center vineyard. In the front: cold sensitive Syrah (V. vinifera  L.) vine killed back to the ground.  In the back: Healthy cold hardy Marquette (Vitis spp.) vines.

Figure 1. Cold damage at Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center vineyard. In the front: cold sensitive Syrah (V. vinifera L.) vine killed back to the ground. In the back: Healthy cold hardy Marquette (Vitis spp.) vines.

Could delaying fruit harvest for ice wine production negatively affect vine health and compromise winter bud cold-hardiness?

A recent 5-year study conducted in Ohio reported that neither crop level (16 vs 32 clusters per hedgerow meter) or harvest date (beginning of October vs middle of December) had an impact on winter bud cold-hardiness in ‘Vidal blanc’ vines [2]. This is very good news for growers. However, as the authors suggested, the effect of crop level on cold hardiness may depend on the variety [3] and its vegetative and reproductive characteristics (i.e., tendency for excessive vigor and/or over-cropping).

Ongoing research at Penn State is being conducted to assess the impact of crop load management practices on bud cold acclimation, de-acclimation, and maximum cold hardiness, as well as carbohydrate reserve storage. We plan on highlighting these developments as results are determined over the next few years.

 How to assess cold injury in grapevine, and manage cold injured vines?

After budbreak, when the extent of the damage started to become more clear, many growers wondered how to assess the extent of the damage and what the best practices were for rapid vine recovery. Our grape and wine team at Penn State put together a list of resources to help growers during this difficult growing season. Here are some of those resources:

You can start reading the article published on eXtension Cold Injury in Grapevine by Mark Chien, former Penn State Viticulture Extension educator and now Program Coordinator, Oregon Wine Research Institute, and Michelle Moyer, assistant professor at Washington State University. At the end of the article you can find of comprehensive list of recommended resources that can be used to assess and manage cold damage in the vineyard. Among these resources I would like to highlight:

Other resources that you may find useful are:

  • Managing Winter-Injured Vines published on Appellation Cornell, June 2014, by Tim Martinson (Senior Extension Associate, Cornell University);.
  • Managing Winter Injury published on the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program, Cornell University, Viticulture Notes, Issue # 3, June 2014, by Kevin Martin (Penn State University, LERGP Business Management Extension Associate). The article provides useful guidelines of the cost associated with re-training and re-planting a vineyard.

What did we learn?

The severe cold winter provided a good opportunity to evaluate the cold hardiness of Vitis vinifera and inter-specific hybrid wine grape varieties at the two variety evaluation plantings established in Pennsylvania (PA) in 2008, as part of the NE1020 multistate project. The two plantings are located at the Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center (LERGREC, Northwest Pennsylvania) and at the Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) in the southern side of PA. For more information about the NE-1020 trial please refer to the article “NE-1020, What? The Top 5 Industry Benefits Affiliated with the NE-1020 Variety Trial” by Denise Gardner.

At the LERGREC station all the V. vinifera varieties experienced extensive winter injury. High incidence of vine mortality was recorded in Syrah, and Muscat Ottonel; trunk injury was mostly observed in Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio. Among the V. vinifera varieties, Cabernet Franc and Grüner Veltilner vines are recovering the best; healthy suckers are growing from above the graft union and they will be used for trunk renewal next spring. For information regarding the level of bud injury observed on the 17 grapevine varieties established at the LERGREC site please refer to the article “Grape Growing in PA In Spite of the Weather” by B. Hed and M. Centinari

As expected, lower levels of winter injury were recorded at the FREC station in the Southern part of Pennsylvania. The most significant winter injury was observed in Tannat (almost 100% vine mortality). Some of the other varieties experienced cold damage, limited primarily to primary buds. Although, some of the Syrah and Malbec vines suffered conductive tissue damage (phloem and xylem) and collapsed during the summer (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Cold damage at the FREC vineyard. Syrah (V. vinifera L.) vines collapsed during the summer because of conductive tissue damage (phloem and xylem).

Figure 2. Cold damage at the FREC vineyard. Syrah (V. vinifera L.) vines collapsed during the summer because of conductive tissue damage (phloem and xylem).

As a consequence of primary bud damage some of the V. vinifera varieties produced low crop yield (Table 1). Specifically, average yields of Malbec, Albarino and Cabernet Sauvignon were much lower than those of the previous season (second column, Table 1). Cluster number per vine in Sangiovese and Viognier were lower than usual. Data such as “percent live buds per total buds left (% live buds/total buds)” and “shoot number per vine” were also recorded. This will provide a comprehensive picture of the differences among the genotypes and their ability to adapt to extreme environmental conditions such as the cold temperatures we experienced in the winter of 2014.

Table 1. Yield components of 20winegrape cultivars in the NE-1020 cultivar trial at Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) in the southern side of PA. Vines spacing is 6’ between vines and 9’ between rows.

a - Yield data and cluster data were not recorded due to high levels of bird damage. b - Production data were not recorded due to high level vine mortality.

a – Yield data and cluster data were not recorded due to high levels of bird damage.
b – Production data were not recorded due to high level vine mortality.

Work cited:

  1. Jones, K.S., J. Paroschy, B.D. McKersie, and S.R. Bowley (1999). Carbohydrate composition and freezing tolerance of canes and buds in Vitis vinifera. J. Plant Physiol. 155:101-106.
  2. Dami I.E., S. Ennahli, and D. Scurlock (2013). A Five-year Study on the Effect of Cluster Thinning and Harvest Date on Yield, Fruit Composition, and Cold-hardiness of ‘Vidal Blanc’ (Vitis spp.) for Ice Wine Production. HortScience 48(11):1358–1362.
  3. Dami, I.E., D.C. Ferree, S.K. Kurtural, and B.H. Taylor (2005). Influence of cropload on ‘Chambourcin’ yield, fruit quality, and winter hardiness under midwestern United States environmental conditions. Acta Hort. 689: 203–208.

Mid and Late-Season Grape Disease Control

By: Bryan Hed, Plant Pathology Research Technologist, Erie County

2018 was a disastrous season for many grape growers in Pennsylvania. Excessive rainfall occurred almost everywhere below Interstate 90 and some growers have told me it was their worst crop, ever.  Now, looking at various NEWA weather station locations across PA, it’s been shaping up to be another wet season in a lot of places, yet again. May rainfall was heavy in all but the Lake Erie region, with 6-9 inches of precipitation recorded across most of the state. Conditions lightened up a bit in June but were still wetter than average in most places (even in the Lake Erie region). But now, conditions in July actually appear to be drying up in a few (but not all) locations, giving some growers a break in terms of fungal disease management. 

Hopefully, most premium wine grape growers have already applied fruit-zone leaf removal to open their fruit to better sunlight and aeration and better pesticide penetration. The benefits of this practice cannot be overemphasized, and in our wet, humid climate, it is one of the most effective cultural treatments we know of for reducing the susceptibility of the crop to disease of all kinds (especially bunch/sour rots), and improving coverage, and therefore efficacy, of fruit protection sprays. If you haven’t yet applied this treatment, it is not too late, though the benefits of leaf removal may be reduced the later it is applied. There is also a greater danger of sunburn on your fruit the later it is applied, and for that reason you may want to confine your leaf removal at this time to the east or north side of the trellis (depending on row orientation), especially in areas where very hot mid/late summer temperatures are expected. 

And with that, let’s talk about diseases and their control for the remainder of the season. Much of this information has already been covered in previous blogs in previous years, and I have borrowed some information from those blogs here (no need to reinvent the wheel). 

Downy mildew

As you know all too well, wet years are ideal for downy mildew. At about this time, the fruit of most grape varieties are resistant to this disease, but cluster stems may remain susceptible for a couple of weeks after fruit are resistant, and leaves will remain susceptible all season. If the weather remains wet or wet weather returns, downy mildew can be a serious threat to grape canopies and ripening, until harvest. Continue scouting for the distinctive white ‘downy’ sporulation on the undersides of leaves. Growers of susceptible varieties need to keep closely monitoring their vineyards for active sporulation and use that information in combination with the DMCast model on NEWA (http://www.newa.cornell.edu/) to determine if and when infection periods occurred.

If you see active, white sporulation on the undersides of leaves, the downy mildew pathogen is capable of spreading quickly under wet conditions. Even humid nights that result in heavy dews by morning, can continue to fuel downy mildew development. Once out of control, it can strip vines of their leaves and effectively end fruit ripening for this year and shoot ripening for next year’s crop. It could also mean your grapevines will go into winter dormancy at less than optimal hardiness and more vulnerable to damage by severe cold, leading to another bout with crown gall and trunk renewal to have to deal with for years to come. All these issues are connected, and this is definitely a disease you want to keep under very tight control, especially on Vitis vinifera. 

If you find yourself trying to control this disease well into the ripening period, be aware that your list of chemical control options will start to dwindle as we get within 30 (Ranman, Reason), then 21 (Ziram), then 14 (Revus, Revus Top, Zampro) days of harvest, until in the end you’ll be left with Captan, copper, and phosphorous acid products (0 day pre-harvest interval), which have their shortcomings, discussed below.

Another reason to keep this disease well under control is that products like Ranman, Reason, Revus/Revus Top, and Zampro, all contain chemistries that are prone to the development of resistance, and should not be used to put down an epidemic, which will speed up the resistance development process. Even phosphorous acid products, which are less prone to resistance development, can be lost to resistance through repeated applications on a heavily diseased vineyard. I know this is probably the last thing on your mind when your vineyard is under an attack of epidemic proportions, but still another good reason to keep downy mildew well in hand. 

Conversely, Captan or copper fungicides would be least risky in terms of the development of resistance and can be an effective means of controlling downy mildew late into the growing season. Just be aware that formulations of Captan have seasonal limits, so plan ahead if you can. There are also some insecticides that should not be applied with Captan. Also, keep in mind the risk for injury by copper applications, and that copper injury will be exacerbated by application under slow drying conditions and application to wet canopies (for example, don’t make applications to dew covered canopies in the early morning). It’s also important to consider that copper is poisonous to yeasts and that excessive copper residues at harvest can interfere with fermentation, and wine stability and quality. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict how high residues will be on fruit at harvest; that’s going to depend on the copper formulation (fortunately some of the newer coppers utilize lower copper concentrations), rate of material used, spray coverage, and amount of rainfall from application to harvest. I am not aware of any information that establishes a nice, clean cut-off date or pre-harvest interval for avoiding excessive copper residues at harvest. There is also some evidence that late Captan sprays can cause problems in the winemaking process, in terms of delaying fermentation and negative effects on wine quality but the consequences seem less severe and irreversible.  For more on this, consider this online article by Dr. Annemiek Schilder, former fruit pathologist at Michigan State University.

If you are protecting a non-bearing, young vineyard from downy mildew (you’re not selling/harvesting a crop), you can continue to use mancozeb products to control downy mildew past the 66-day pre-harvest interval. You can also consider using mancozeb after harvest to keep canopies clean of downy mildew and ‘firing on all cylinders’ until that first frost. The longer your vines can continue to produce and store carbohydrates after harvest, the better prepared they’ll be to withstand winter cold. 

Fluffy, white downy mildew sporulation on the underside of a grape leaf

Powdery mildew

Good control of powdery mildew is also very challenging in wet years when humidity levels remain ‘through the roof’ and cloud cover occurs for extended periods of time. Now that we are largely past the fruit protection period, our focus is on keeping leaves clean, especially on V. vinifera, for about 6-8 more weeks. I say this for many of the same reasons expounded in the section about downy mildew (ensure optimal ripening of fruit and shoots/canes, ensure optimal cold hardiness, more effectively and more easily manage fungicide resistance, etc). But there is another very important reason, demonstrated by some excellent research conducted by Wayne Wilcox, Dave Gadoury and graduate students at Cornell University, who showed that controlling powdery mildew up to about Labor Day can also go a long way to reducing overwintering inoculum and disease pressure the following spring. Why Labor Day? When powdery mildew infected leaves die by that first hard frost in fall, the mildew on those leaves stops developing and also dies…unless it has had time to form fully mature, winter resistant structures called chasmothecia. In other words, if the chasmothecia in a powdery mildew colony on a leaf, do not have time to fully mature before the leaf dies, they will not be tough enough to survive the dormant period (winter) and will not contribute to the bank of primary inoculum that infection periods draw upon the following spring. Knowing this, a grower can get a better handle on the ‘size’ of the powdery mildew problems he/she will potentially face next spring and the spring after that, and so on. If, for example, you had heavy powdery mildew development earlier in this season (on clusters and/or leaves), expect to have to deal with powdery mildew early next season and you’ll have to take appropriate action during early shoot growth stages with preventive fungicide sprays. Once again, this is particularly important if you are growing Vitis vinifera and much less important for growers of native varieties like Concord and Niagara. 

Greyish-white colonies of powdery mildew growing across the upper surface of grape leaves

Botrytis bunch rot control

If you’re growing bunch rot susceptible wine grape varieties, you have already applied a Botrytis specific fungicide at full bloom and probably pre-closure (?) This is because Botrytis infections can occur during bloom and early fruit development under wet conditions (which most of us have had). These Botrytis infections of the clusters usually remain dormant, or ‘latent’, and do not result in active rot of the fruit…until after veraison, when injury to berries or high humidity, or some other factor (research has not completely determined all the factors involved) may lead to activation of a percentage of these infections and cause clusters to rot. 

In varieties with very compact clusters, the pre-closure application may be extremely important as it may be your last opportunity to get protective fungicide residues onto the interior surfaces of clusters. Along with the bloom spray, this spray will also help to reduce ‘latent’ Botrytis infections that continue to accumulate throughout the ‘green’ berry development period. The pre-closure spray may also be a good opportunity to clean clusters of bloom trash (dead cap and stamen tissue that got stuck in the clusters after bloom). Bloom trash provides a substrate for Botrytis and serves as a focal point for bunch rots to develop later in the season, from inside clusters. The compactness of clusters plays an important role in not only the retention of bloom trash (the tighter the cluster, the more bloom trash retained) but also the effect of retained bloom trash on cluster rot; as compactness increases, the enhancement of bunch rot by retained bloom trash increases. 

Another bunch rot control measure is leaf removal around clusters, which we’ve already discussed above. It is an expensive operation to add to your production costs and is most cost-effectively applied by machine (machinery costs aside). We have found that it can be mechanized most effectively if vines are trained to a vertical shoot positioned (VSP) or some other two-dimensional trellis system with a relatively focused and narrow cluster zone. One additional benefit of leaf removal that I haven’t mentioned yet is the fact that it can also reduce bloom trash retained in clusters: when comparing clusters of vines treated with and without leaf removal, we noted a significant reduction in bloom trash where leaves were removed, regardless of timing or method (by hand or machine). 

Our next fungicide application for Botrytis is made just before or at veraison. As fruit begin to soften and skins become thinner and more easily penetrated by fungal pathogens like Botrytis, an application at this time, to rot prone varieties, is a good way to stave off bunch rot development. After veraison, fruit also becomes more susceptible and more likely to become injured by birds, insects, excess moisture/humidity, and overcrowding of berries in tight clusters. Botrytis fungicides can protect intact fruit surfaces and may help to reduce the spread of Botrytis rot on fruit, even after they have become injured. 

Lastly, an application about 2-3 weeks after veraison, especially under wet weather conditions, can reduce further rot development during the last stretch of ripening. Keep in mind that Botrytis fungicides control Botrytis and will not provide protection against sour rot organisms that often destroy the fruit of overly compact clusters, despite the application of a full Botrytis fungicide program.

And speaking of sour rot…

In case you haven’t already heard, there is some relatively new information on sour rot control that I would like to impart. It’s been included in previous blogs as well and that information was presented earlier this year at the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey PA. However, it bears repeating it here. It originated from work conducted by Dr. Megan Hall, a former graduate student of Wayne Wilcox at Cornell University, and it demonstrates how additional pesticide applications during the latter stages of ripening (beginning around 15 brix) can significantly reduce the development of sour rot, which for many premium wine grape growers in PA, is public enemy no. 1 at harvest. Her incredibly thorough work has shown a close connection between fruit flies and sour rot development. It turns out that the presence of the flies is important to the accumulation/generation of acetic acid in rotting fruit. Treatments composed of weekly, tank-mix applications of an insecticide (to control the flies) and an antimicrobial (to kill bacteria) have been found to reduce sour rots by 50-80% over unsprayed vines. So far, the best results appear to occur when weekly sprays are initiated before sour rot symptoms are observed (preventive sprays before about 15 brix). This exciting work should provide yet another effective option for sour rot control in the wet, humid parts of the eastern U.S. and we are looking forward to hearing more about this rot control option in the near future.

Lastly, don’t forget how important good canopy and fertility management is to the efficacy of your expensive Botrytis fungicide and sour rot pesticide applications. It’s always a good idea to make sure your shoots are well tucked and spaced within the catch wires, and summer pruning has removed shoots ends that may block sprays from thoroughly penetrating the fruit zone, just before you make each Botrytis fungicide application. We like to wait as long as possible to trim shoot tips because of the effect on lateral growth stimulation, but make sure excessively long shoots have not flopped over to block spray penetration into the fruit zone. Limiting shoot growth after veraison with good canopy and fertility management will also limit the supply of new green tissue that is hyper susceptible to powdery and downy mildew and will contribute to more effective late-season management of these diseases as well.   

For further reading on this and many other disease management topics, refer to the 2019 New York and Pennsylvania Pest Management Guidelines for Grapes. If you don’t have a copy, you can get one through Cornell University Press. Every commercial grape production operation should have one! 

Cleaning and Sanitizing Winery Equipment: Stainless Steel, Barrels, Bottling Lines

By Dr. Molly Kelly, Enology Extension Educator, Department of Food Science

As we approach harvest, we should be reviewing our sanitation protocols both in the vineyard and winery. In this article we will focus on effective cleaning and sanitizing in the winery, specifically winery equipment to make sure certain objectives are met:

  • To continually improve wine quality 
  • To reduce quality concerns
  • To ultimately operate cost-effectively…by annually producing both a quality wine and reaching the targeted financial return
  • To reduce food safety concerns

Stainless Steel Winery Equipment

During normal service, all grades and finishes of stainless steel may in fact stain, discolor, or attain an adhering layer of grime.  What considerations should one take regarding maintaining stainless steel equipment and the related use of cleaners and sanitizers?  The frequency and cost of cleaning stainless steel is lower than for many other materials and often out-weighs the higher acquisition costs. Generally, the frequency of cleaning should be determined by the objective to “clean the metal when it is dirty in order to restore its original appearance.”

So, the degree of cleaning depends on the condition of stainless steel equipment:

  • Routine Maintenance – mild cleaning
  • Mildly aggressive cleaning to remove minor surface dirt:  use sponge or bristle brush with a non-abrasive cleaner and warm water; towel dry. To prevent compromising the integrity of the protective oxide coating on stainless steel, only soft-bristle brushes should be used in the case where scrubbing is required.
  • More aggressive, for example, grease:  repeat above, then use a hydrocarbon solvent such as acetone or alcohol.
  • Aggressive cleaning to remove stains or light rust:  use a chrome, brass, silver cleaner and mild non-scratching creams and polishes.
  • Most aggressive to remove stubborn mineral deposits:  use phosphoric acid (10-15% solution) – apply with a soft cloth and let stand; no rubbing.  Follow with ammonia and water rinse; rinse with hot water.  Note that nitric acid is effective too but tends to degrade gasket material.

General Cleaning and Sanitizing Sequence: 

1. Begin with a cold water, high-pressure rinse.  Cleaning with high-pressure is most effective when the spray is directed at an angle to surface being cleaned.  One may also use warm water (100-109 F) in high-pressure systems; this tends to reduce time.

2.  Use a strong inorganic alkaline solution; such alkaline cleaners effectively dissolve acid soils and food wastes. Examples of alkaline cleaning agents are caustic soda (NaOH), soda ash (KOH), trisodium phosphate (TSP) and sodium metasilicate.  Carefully follow instructions because such alkalis are very corrosive to stainless steel if used incorrectly.  A mild acid (citric) will neutralize alkaline detergent residues, dissolve the mineral deposits and prevent spotting.  As a rule, soda ash (KOH) rinses better than caustic soda (NaOH).

3. Continue with a cold water, high-pressure rinse.

4. Sanitizer Options:  

a.  Water and Steam

  • Hot water (180 F) and steam are ideal sterilants:  they are noncorrosive, penetrative of surfaces, and effective against juice/wine microorganisms.  
    • Use hot water for 20 minutes (at 180 F).
    • If steam, use until condensate from valves reaches 180 F for 20 minutes.

b.  Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs), combined with peroxyacetic acid.  

Note that “acid-anionic” sanitizers such as peroxyacetic acid are effective at lower than ambient temperatures; remove biofilms; and are effective against bacterial spores. The low foam characteristics make them ideal for Clean-in-Place (CIP) applications.  Although peroxyacetic acid must be used in well-ventilated area, it is ecologically harmless by decomposing into acetic acid, oxygen, and water.

  • Rinse: QAC solutions may leave objectionable films on equipment and should be rinsed off with fresh cold water, high-pressure rinse.
  • Final rinse: a hot water, high-pressure rinse. Ideally, heat-sterilized water should be used for this final rinse.  
  • Ozone treatment (optional)
  • NOTE: Remember to remove tank valves, take apart and clean prior to harvest.

Barrels

There are many different barrel cleaning methods:

  • High-pressure water, hot or cold
  • Steam
  • Caustic chemicals
  • Ozone
  • SO2 (in any form: wicks, liquid, gas)
  • Dry ice blasting
  • Ultrasound
  • Shaving

In selecting which method to use, consider the effects on aroma/flavor extraction, tartrate removal, microbial reductions, water usage, power usage, worker safety, and cost.

The following are recommended cleaning and sanitizing sequences, based on barrel status.

New Barrels/Fault-Free Barrels

  • Cold water, high-pressure rinse, 1-3 minutes
  • High-pressure steam rinse, 1-3 minutes
  • Repeat cold and steam rinses twice more
  • Either refill with clean wine or
    • Fill with water
      • add ozone, if available
      • follow with water + 45 ppm SO2/90 ppm citrate
  • After 1-4 days, empty and refill with wine or empty and burn sulfur wick, re-bung, and store; or, if using the gas, inject SO2for three to five seconds.
  • If the barrel is to be long-term stored, dissolve and add 45 grams of potassium metabisulfite (KMS) and 180 grams of citric acid; then top the barrel with water. Be sure to top the barrel with plain water every couple of weeks. When you’re ready to use the barrel, empty and rinse twice; then fill with wine.

Likely Fault-Free Barrels, but Unsure

  • Sodium percarbonate washes (Proxycarb) are an excellent option for addressing potential off-flavors.  Citric acid washes are then used to neutralize residual chemicals.  Once the barrel has been cleaned, allow the barrel to dry completely on a rack with the bunghole facing down.  Sodium percarbonate is better than hydrogen peroxide: it is more stable at application concentration (100-200 mg/L), has improved compatibility with hard water, and reduced foaming tendencies.
  • When the barrel is dry, burn 10-20 grams of sulfur wick per barrel; or, if using the gas, inject SOfor three to five seconds.  
  • Place either a paper cup, wooden shipping bung, or other in the bunghole.
  • Check sulfur level every 3-4 weeks and re-sulfur as necessary.

Tannin and Tartrate Deposit Removal

  • Removal of tannins:  Alkaline solutions (soaking with 1% sodium carbonate) are most effective in removing tannins from new barrels.  If further treatment is necessary, steam and several rinses should be applied.
  • Removal of tartrate deposits:  scraping is labor intensive and may injure wood. Instead, use a circular spray head. For stubborn deposits, soaking with 1 kg of soda ash and caustic soda in 100 L of water is effective.

Faulty Barrels

  • Option 1: Remove from winery and sell for non-wine uses
  • Option 2: Clean, sterilize, and re-use, if worth the cost
    • Use same rinse cycles as per barrels without faulty aromas or tastes.
    • Fill with water, put steam wand in water and bring water to 160-180°F, steam periodically to maintain temperature for 4-6 hours and
      • add ozone, if available
      • follow with water + 45 ppm SO2/90 ppm citrate
    • After 1-4 days, empty and burn sulfur wick, re-bung, and store.
    • After 1-4 weeks, rinse and fill with clean water; after 1 week, take samples and then add 90 ppm SO2/180 ppm citrate while doing microbiological assay of samples.
    • If samples are negative for spoilage microorganisms, re-use barrel, but sample periodically.

Bottling Room Equipment

The bottling and packaging function is one of the most critical steps in wine production because there are many opportunities for problems (people with different responsibilities, multiple wines to bottle, and operation and maintenance of multiple equipment stations).

Are sterile bottling rooms necessary?  No, but the bottling area should be screened-off from fermentation areas and excessive air movement, and the room itself should have easily sanitized floors, walls, and ceilings.

General Cleaning and Sanitizing Sequence: 

  • Cold water, high-pressure rinse
    • Mild alkaline detergent solution
    • Cold water, high-pressure rinse
    • Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs), combined with peroxyacetic acid.  
    • Cold water, high-pressure rinse
    • Sanitization: Hot water and steam used to sanitize bottling line
      • 80-90F for 30 minutes
      • 180F for 20 minutes; or
      • Ozone for 20-30 minutes; or
      • Use of iodophors (iodine-based sanitizers): broad-spectrum – active against bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds, fungi.  Follow instructions carefully to avoid potential TCA problems; follow with a hot water, high-pressure rinse.

Prior to bottling, add enough SO2to ensure enough free SO2for 0.8 ppm molecular SO2. Add a little bit extra – to account for free SO2loss during bottling. Generally, target a free SO2that is 10 to 15 ppm higher than the level of free SO2needed for 0.8 ppm molecular SO2.  Also, target more or less depending on trauma of bottling method (O2pick up)

Recommendations during operation of the bottling line:

  • Wine spills as a source of contamination should be countered by regular and proper cleaning
  • Filter-pad trays should be emptied often, and related wine spills quickly rinsed away with a sanitizing agent
  • Fill bowls: Mist filler spouts with 70% ethanol to inhibit microbial growth
  • Corker: will likely have spilled wine, so use ethanol misting of corker jaws during bottling
  • Floor drain gutters should be kept clean by frequent rinsing
  • Activity: Limit number of people around the filling/corking area
  • Daily sanitation…hot water or steam…20 minutes at 180F
  • At least weekly, clean with caustic cleaners followed by hot water sanitation.
  • Collect bottles for analysis hourly and immediately after start-up and breaks.

References:

Butzke, C., Barrel Maintenance, Dept. of Food Science, Purdue University, 2007.

Carter, James, There’s a Right Way to Clean and Sanitizing your Facility, Food Quality.com

Donnelly, David M, Airborne Microbial Contamination in a Winery Bottling Room, Am. J. Enol Vitic, Vol 28, #3, 1977

Fugelsang, Kenneth; Edward, Charles G. Wine Microbiology, 2nd Edition, 2010. Springer-Verlag New York Inc. (Chapter 9, Winery Cleaning and Sanitizing)

Marriott, Norman G.; Gravani, Robert B.  Principles of Food Sanitation, 5thEdition, 2006. Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. (pp 361-367)

Howe, P., ETS Laboratories, SOWI “Current Issues” Workshops March 2011. 

Menke, S., Cleansers and Sanitizers, Penn State Enology Extension, 2007.

Tracy, R. and Skaalen, B. Jan/Feb 2009. Bottling-last line of microbial defense. Practical Winery and Vineyard

Worobo, Randy W., Non-chlorine Sanitizer Options for the Wineries, 33th Annual New York Wine Industry Workshop

Zoecklein, B. et al, Wine Analysis and Production, Aspen Publishers, 1999.

Barrel Care  http://www.boswellcompany.com/barrel-care/

Maintaining and Cleaning Stainless Steel  http://www.evapco.eu/sites/evapco.eu/files/white_papers/40-Cleaning-Stainless-Steel.pdf

Stainless Steel – Cleaning, Care and Maintenance  http://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1182

Taking Care of Your Barrels   https://barrelbuilders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06-16-Barrel-Care.pdf

Early Season Update

Dr. Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture, Department of Plant Science

Another growing season has started for many Pennsylvania grape growers. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, we are seeing and hearing of situations of vine winter injury across the State. This past winter, the lowest temperatures occurred at the end of January and during the first two days in February, with values around -5 °F (-20.6 °C) here in State College (central PA) and even lower temperatures were recorded at other locations.The injury seemed to have mainly affected Vitisviniferavarieties with reports of bud kill up to almost 100% for the most cold-sensitive varieties and, in some cases, trunk splitting.Growers also noticed uneven /nonuniform budburst which is typical of winter-injured vines.  We ask that more growers share their experiences with us; in particular, we would like to know if growers made any pruning adjustments and what the results are/have been. 

Since winter injury is a reoccurring issue for the eastern US, during certain years, we have covered topics related to vine cold hardiness, injury assessment, and pruning techniques for winter-injured vines at Extension meetings. Also, we have posted an announcement that focused on Pruning strategies for cold climate viticultureon the Penn State Viticulture and Enology Facebook page in January 2019, just before the “Arctic Vortex” event hit our region. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions on how to manage cold-injured vines.

We heard from several PA growers in southern and central PA that budburst occurred earlier this year, a week to 10 days is what has been typically reported, than in 2018. This was also true for the hybrid varieties grown at the Penn State research farm at Rock Springs (central PA). I checked the growing degree days (GDD), a widely used index of heat accumulation, data calculated by the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA Cornell) for weather stations located in North East, Erie (northwestern PA), Biglerville (south-central PA), and Reading (southeast PA). Although historic data are not available, I compared the average GDD accumulated from January 1 to May 15 for 2013-2017 to those accumulated for the same period in 2018 and 2019 (Figures 1, 2 and 3).

Figure1. Cumulative growing degree days (GDD) at North East, Erie (northwestern PA)

Trends across locations/regions 

Not surprisingly, it was cooler in Erie compared to south-central and southeastern PA between January to Mid-May, not just in 2019 but for each year analyzed. In 2019, approximately 158 GDD accumulated between January 1 to May 15 in Erie, while GDD were at least double in south-central and southeast PA. Differences in temperatures across regions and locations explain why budburst typically occurs much earlier in southeast PA compared to the northwestern part of the state.

Difference between years 

In Erie, the GDD accumulated between January to mid-May 2019 (red line) were slightly lower than those for the same period in 2018 (blue line) and for the 2013-2017 average (black line). Also, note that there was no accumulation of GDD for a few days in May 2019 due to cool temperatures (Figure 1). The trend, however, was opposite in south-central and southeast PA, at least at the locations reported in this post. April was warmer (higher GDD) in 2019 compared to 2018 and the 2013-2017 average. While warmer spring temperatures favor earlier budburst they also increase the chance of freeze injury to green, tender plant tissues (Figure 4). 

Figure 4.Spring freeze (frost) injury on Concord, Rock Springs (PA)

At several locations across PA, temperatures were below freezing in the early morning of April 29 and some varieties were close to or already passed budburst. Below freezing temperature does not necessarily mean freeze injury as many factors affect the temperature at which the plant tissue is damaged or killed.  However, the freeze event on April 29 did cause freeze damage to vines at several locations, while others avoided the damage by using frost protection methods, such as frost dragons.  Some of the varieties grown at the Penn State research vineyard at Rock Springs, chiefly Marquette and young LaCrescent vines, sustained freeze injury. It is too early to estimate crop losses, but at least we are seeing some secondary shoot development (Figure 5).

How to recognize a secondary from a primary shoot

A relatively easy way, especially for caned pruned vines, is to check the angle of projection from the cane. Primary shoots typically grow with an angle of 45°, while secondary grow at an angle of 90° (figure 5).

Figure 5. Primary shoot damage after spring freeze event on April 29. Note a secondary shoot developing at 90° from the cane.

You can learn more about the basics of spring freeze injury and methods of protection at https://extension.psu.edu/understanding-and-preventing-spring-frost-and-freeze-damage

Looking ahead

It is almost time for some early season canopy management practice. Please check the following articles if you need information on shoot thinning or early leaf removal: 

Early season grapevine canopy management, Part I: Shoot thinning

Early season grapevine canopy management, Part II: Early leaf removal 

2019 PA Wine Marketing & Research Board Symposium: Presentation Summaries

On March 5, 2019, Penn State researchers and Extension personnel presented research findings and provided five-minute overviews of upcoming studies at the 2019 Wine Marketing & Research Board Symposium, held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Winery Association Annual Conference.

In this post, we have included short summaries of what each presenter discussed during their session along with a PDF/access to their presentation.

Research presentations

Under-vine cover crops: Can they mitigate vine vigor and control weeds while maintaining vine productivity?

Presented by Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture, Suzanne Fleishman, Ph.D. Candidate, and Kathy Kelley, Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management 

Michela, Suzanne, and Kathy discussed research conducted at Penn State related to the use of under-vine cover crops as a management practice alternative to herbicide or soil cultivation. Michela reviewed potential benefits of under-vine cover crops, such as reduction of excessive vegetative growth, weed suppression, and reduced soil erosion. She showed how the selection of cover crop species depends on the production goals of a vineyard, climate, vine age, and rootstock. Suzanne presented results from her research project. She is investigating above- and belowground effects of competition between a red fescue cover crop and Noiret grapevines, comparing responses between vines grafted to 101-14 Mgt vs Riparia rootstocks. Surveys will be administered to Pennsylvania grape growers and wine consumers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Growers will be asked to respond to questions about interest in using cover crops and benefits that could encourage their use. The consumer survey will focus on learning whether cover crops use would impact their purchasing decision and if they would be willing to pay a price premium for a bottle of wine to offset additional production costs.

Presentation PDF file

Impact of two frost avoidance strategies that delay budburst on grape productivity, chemical and sensory wine quality.

Presented by Michela Centinari, Assistant professor of Viticulture 

Crop losses and delays in fruit ripening caused by spring freeze damage represent an enormous challenge for wine grape producers around the world. This multi-year study aims to compare the effectiveness of two frost avoidance strategy (application of a food grade vegetable oil-based adjuvant and delayed winter pruning) on delaying the onset of budburst, thus reducing the risk of spring freeze damage. Our objectives are to: i) evaluate if the delay in budburst impacts grape production and fruit maturity at harvest, as well as chemical and sensory wine properties; ii) elucidate the mechanism of action of the vegetable oil-based adjuvant through an examination of bud respiration and potential phytotoxic effects; and iii) assess the impact of the two frost avoidance strategies on carbohydrate reserve storage and bud freeze tolerance during the dormant season. 

Presentation PDF file

Toward the development of a varietal plan for Pennsylvania wine grape growers

Presented by Claudia Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics, and Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture

Claudia Schmidt is a new Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics with an extension appointment at Penn State. Claudia used the opportunity of the symposium to introduce herself to the industry. In her presentation, she first gave an overview on what and where Pennsylvanians buy their wines and spirits. She then talked about the research needed to develop a varietal plan for the Pennsylvania grape and wine industry to match existing and future grape production and variety suitability with anticipated consumer demand. The immediate next steps on her research agenda are to develop a  baseline survey of grape production in Pennsylvania and, in collaboration with Michela Centinari, region specific cost of production of grapes.

Presentation PDF file

Survey for grapevine leafroll viruses in Pennsylvania: How common is it, and how is it effecting production and quality?

Presented by Bryan Hed, Research Technologist

This is a continuing project funded by the PA Wine Marketing and Research Board, that has focused on the determination of the incidence of grapevine leafroll associated virus 1 and 3 (the two most economically important and widely distributed of the leafroll viruses) in commercial vineyard blocks of Cabernet franc, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Chambourcin, across the Commonwealth. Over two years, the survey has shown that grapevine leafroll associated viruses 1 and/or 3, were present in about a third of the vineyard blocks examined. Infection of grapevines by grapevine leafroll-associated viruses can have serious consequences on yield, vigor, cold hardiness, and most notably fruit/wine quality. Bryan also discussed a second phase of the project, anticipated to continue for at least another two years within 6 vineyard blocks of Cabernet franc, identified in the survey. In these vineyards, we plan to plot the spread of these viruses, examine and report their effects on grapevine vegetative growth, yield, and fruit chemistry, and characterize the influence of inter- and intra-seasonal weather conditions on virus-infected grapevine performance.

Presentation PDF file

Integrating the new pest, spotted lanternfly, to your grape pest management program.

Presented by Heather Leach, Extension Associate

Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is a new invasive planthopper in the Northeast U.S. that threatens grape production. Heather covered the basic biology, identification, and current distribution of SLF. She also presented on the economic impact of SLF in the grape industry and ways to manage SLF in your vineyard. SLF can feed heavily on vines causing sap depletion in the fall which has resulted in death of vines, or failure of vines to set fruit in the following year. While biological controls such as pathogens and natural enemies along with trapping and behaviorally based methods are being researched, our current management strategy relies on using insecticides sprayed in the vineyard. Heather showed results from the 2018 insecticide trials conducted against SLF, with efficacy from several products including bifenthrin, dinotefuran, thiamethoxam, carbaryl, and zeta-cypermethrin. You can read more about the results from this trial here: https://extension.psu.edu/updated-insecticide-recommendations-for-spotted-lanternfly-on-grape

Presentation PDF file

Five-minute research project overviews

Impact of spotted lanternfly on Pennsylvania wine quality.

Presented by Molly Kelly, Extension Enologist 

The Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) presents a severe problem both due to direct damage to grapevines as well as their potential to impact wine quality. Insects are known to produce or sequester toxic alkaloid compounds. The objectives of this study include characterizing the chemical compounds in SLF and production of  wines with varying degrees of SLF infestation. We can then provide winegrowers with recommendations for production of wine from infested fruit. Toxicity studies will be conducted to determine the levels of toxic compounds in finished wine, if any, using a mouse bioassay.

Presentation PDF file

Exploring the microbial populations and wild yeast diversity in a Chambourcin wine model system

Presented by Chun Tang Feng, M.S. Candidate, and Josephine Wee, Assistant Professor of Food Science  

In Dr. Josephine Wee’s lab, we are interested in the microbial population and diversity associated with winemaking. When it comes to wine fermentation, not only are commercial yeasts involved in this process, but also many indigenous yeasts. Our research goal is to isolate the wild yeasts and assess their feasibility of wine fermentation. We are expecting to explore the unique yeast strains from local PA which are able to make a positive impact on wine flavor. 

Prezi Presentation 

Rotundone as a potential impact compound for Pennsylvania wines

Presented by Jessica Gaby, Post-Doctoral Scholar and John Hayes, Associate Professor of Food Science  

This study will examine Pennsylvania consumers’ perceptions of rotundone with the goal of determining whether a rotundone-heavy wine would do well on the local market.  This will be examined from several different perspectives, including sensory testing of rotundone olfactory thresholds, liking and rejection thresholds for rotundone in red wine, and PA consumer focus groups.  The ultimate aim of the study is to determine the ideal concentration of rotundone in a locally-produced wine that would appeal to PA consumers.

Presentation PDF file

Defining regional typicity of Grüner Veltliner wines

Presented by Stephanie Keller, M.S. Candidate, Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture, and Kathy Kelley,  

Grüner Veltliner(GV) is a relatively new grape variety to Pennsylvania, and while climatic conditions are favorable to its growth, the Pennsylvania wine industry is still becoming familiar with the varietal characteristics of GV grown and produced throughout the state.  This study focuses on defining typicity of Pennsylvania-grown GV wines.  Typicity is described as the perceived representativeness of a wine produced from a designated area, and defining typicity can improve wine marketing strategies.  This study uses multiple experimental sites across the state to create wines from a standardized vinification method.  The wines will be analyzed using both instrumental and human sensory methods.Surveys will be administered to Pennsylvania grape growers and white wine consumers in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Growers will be asked their interest in growing GV and what perceived and real barriers may impact their decision to grow the variety.  The consumer survey will focus on understating how to introduce them to a wine varietal they may be less aware of and what promotional methods may encourage them to purchase the wine. 

Presentation PDF file

Boosting polyfunctional thiols and other aroma compounds in white hybrid wines through foliar nitrogen and sulfur application?

Presented by Ryan Elias, Associate Professor of Food Science, Helene Hopfer, Assistant Professor of Food Science, Molly Kelly, Extension Enologist, and Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture

The quality of aromatic white wines is heavily influenced by the presence of low molecular weight, volatile compounds that often have exceedingly low aroma threshold values. Polyfunctional varietal thiols are an important category of these compounds. This project aims to provide research-based viticultural practices that could lead to increases in beneficial varietal thiols in white hybrid grapes. The expected increase in overall wine quality will be validated both by measuring the concentrations of these desirable compounds (i.e., thiols) in finished wines using instrumental analysis and by human sensory evaluation, thus providing a link between the viticultural practice of foliar spraying and the improvement of overall wine quality.  

Presentation PDF file

2018 Growing Season Recap

By: Bryan Hed, Plant Pathology Research Technologist, Erie County and Dr. Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture, Department of Plant Science

This past growing and harvest season has been, accordingly to many growers, one of the most challenging ever not only in Pennsylvania but in many other eastern US regions. With the 2018 season behind us, we can reflect on what we did right and what we can improve to better manage, when possible, vines under the rainfall conditions experienced in many parts of the Commonwealth. In this article, we will mainly discuss disease and vine vigor/nutrition issues related to seasonal weather conditions. Other issues growers experienced, such as Spotted Lanternfly infestations will be addressed in future blog posts. 

What was the major problem? Let’s start with the rain

In Figures 1 and 2, we reported monthly, seasonal (April 1 through October 31) precipitation and growing degree days (GDD; index of heat accumulation) collected by weather stations through the online network for environment and weather applications (http://newa.cornell.edu/) at two locations: Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center (LERGREC) in North East (Erie County, northwestern PA) and in Reading (Berks County, southeast PA). We compared the 2018 data to the previous 19-year (1999-2017) average. 

If you look at the monthly rainfall (Figure 1; Table1) throughout the growing season, it was as if Pennsylvania was divided into two regions during July, August, and September: the southern shore of Lake Erie, and the rest of the state. The Erie lakeshore was, indeed, relatively dry as compared to the rest of the state: rainfall from April to October was only about 4 inches higher than the long-term average. However, in other parts of the state rainfall was as much as 14 inches higher than average(Figure 1A: 2018 = 43.14 inches versus 1999-2017 = 28.68 inches). Berks County in southeastern PA started out with slightly above average rainfall for April and May, followed by a slightly drier than average June, but rainfall greatly increased in the second half of the season (Figure 1A). This happened not only in Berks County, but in many regions of the Commonwealth which recorded much higher than average rainfall in July, August, and September (Table 1). 

Disease pressure

Diseases that depended for development on regular rainfall, like black rot and downy mildew, were relatively easy to control for vineyards along the Lake Erie shore. Powdery mildew was in moderate supply; not light but certainly not of hardcore, epidemic proportions. To complete the picture, we did suffer more than a little from sour rot in some of our wine grapes due to the heat and return of rains in September (5 inches). We also suffered a fair amount of fruit cracking and damage from grape berry moth near harvest that led to some serious shelling and crop loss in many area vineyards. And then, on October 11, it all came to an end. Autumn, which was technically just beginning, was being ‘run out of town on a rail’; the weather suddenly took an entirely different turn and the sun and mild weather disappeared, never looking back. 

In stark contrast, other parts of the state were dealing with way too much rain that created perfect conditions for the development of downy mildew and late-season bunch rots. Fortunately, from the rainfall data gathered from NEWA weather stations, it appears that rainfall in the early post-bloom period (second half of June – first half of July) was relatively average, with about 2.75 inches during that four-week period. This period is critical for fruit protection when the fruit of all grape varieties is most susceptible to all the major fungal diseases. However, by mid-July rainfall ramped up, and was especially abundant during the fruit ripening period; avoiding fruit rots was nearly impossible under those extremely wet conditions.

Other issues

In addition to high disease pressure, wet conditions led to high vegetative growth and high to excessive uptake of nutrients such as potassium (K). In addition to the timely application of canopy management practices to keep vegetative growth under control and maintain an open fruiting zone, the planting of cover crops under the vines could help limit vine vegetative growth through water and nutrient competition (For more information please refer to: Why should we care about under-trellis cover crops?. Our extension team reviewed several plant tissue analysis reports from vineyards across the state and many of them had high, and in several cases excessive, leaf petiole K concentrations. For more information on K and how to manage it in the vineyard please refer to Assessing and managing potassium concentration in the vineyard

What about heat accumulation?

The 2018 growing season in the Lake Erie region will be remembered as a hot season.  Growing degree days accumulated from May 1 to September 30 were almost 3,000 at the LERGREC located along thesouthern shore of Lake Erie (Figure 2B). In contrast, one of the coldest seasons in the last 20 years was 2003 with 2180 GDD, 800 GDD lower than 2018! In 2018 it almost seemed everything happened too fast. Concord grapes at the LERGREC went from 50% bud break to harvest in less than five months, while the growing season for Vignoles (Vitishybrid) was less than 4 months long. 

Heat accumulation was close to long-term average in Berks county (Figure 2A) and other PA regions, but with extended overcast conditions (many cloudy days!) throughout the season which might lead to moderate/low sugar accumulation in the fruit.  Additionally, the overcast conditions contribute to downy mildew, black rot, and other fruit rots. 

Tips for next season disease management

It is important to keep detailed records of where diseases were worst; those are the areas likely to develop disease first next year. Be sure to effectively scout those areas of the vineyard next season. For example, for downy mildew, that means beginning scouting by mid to late May. The downy mildew pathogen spends the winter inside infected grape tissue, especially leaves, that fall to the vineyard soil. The first downy mildew infections can occur during rainfall (at least 0.1 inches of rain and 50 °F) a few weeks prior to bloom, when vines have developed about 5-6 leaves per shoot. 

We have several very effective downy mildew fungicides, but it is important to understand the pros and cons of each one. The old standards like mancozeb (Penncozeb, Manzate, Dithane, etc) and copper formulations are effective against downy mildew, and are great for multiple, back to back applications because they pose little risk in terms of the development of resistance, but they are not as rain-fast as some of the more modern downy mildew materials like Revus, Ridomil, and Zampro, and may need to be reapplied more often under heavy and frequent rainfall conditions. And of course, with copper, there is a risk of vine injury, that is exacerbated under wet, slow drying conditions. Copper residues from late-season applications can also interfere with fermentation. On the other hand, the more rain-fast, more modern fungicides should not be used more than two or three times per season, and even though the label may permit it, we recommend you don’t make back-to-back applications of the same chemistry, among these modern materials. Also, I purposely left out mention of the strobilurins for downy mildew control (Abound, Pristine, Reason), especially for the more intensively managed wine grape areas of southern PA; downy mildew resistance to this chemistry (FRAC 11) is common and this class of fungicides should probably not be relied upon anymore for control of this disease in many parts of Pennsylvania. And then there are phosphorus acid products which have become very popular for downy mildew control. But these materials can be overused as well. They certainly are very rain-fast and effective, but they can be lost to resistance (limit their use to two or three applications per season) and they only provide about 7-10 days of protection at each application, especially under heavy disease pressure on susceptible varieties. For more information on downy mildew control please refer to  Tips for late season downy mildew control 

There are cultural measures you can take to help reduce the overwintering population of pathogens. These measures are not substitutes for a solid seasonal spray program, and they all have their price, but they can make your spray program more effective. The downy mildew and black rot pathogens predominantly overwinter on the soil surface. Strict control of grape seedlings and suckers under the row in spring can reduce opportunities for these pathogens to create ‘stepping stones’ from the soil into your canopies. However, this practice needs to be balanced with the need for renewals where crown gall and the threat of winter trunk damage are perennial issues. During dormant pruning, remove all clustersnot harvested and as much diseased/dead/old wood from the trellis as is practical. Throw this material into the row middle and chop it, or better yet remove it from the vineyard and burn it (if practical). This is especially effective against Phomopsis and black rot. Upright training systems (like vertical shoot position) reduce the probability that pathogen spores will be splashed upward from cordons and trunk, into the fruit zone during rain.

A wet season like 2018 could be the start of additional disease issues heretofore not yet encountered in prior years. For example, a disease called ripe rot(Colletotrichum sp.) may have gotten a fresh foothold in some vineyards in Pennsylvania in 2018. Ripe rot is somewhat of a ‘southern’ disease, it mainly occurs in southern PA vineyards, but it was also noticed in a vineyard in central Pennsylvania in 2018 (Figure 3).

Ripe rot is identified during the ripening period by pink or orange colored slimy spore masses that appear on infected fruit after a wetting period (Figure 3, left panel). 

Since downy mildew and late season fruit rot management was a major challenge for many growers in 2018, Grape Disease Management in Wet Seasonswill be discussed in more detail at the Mid Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA on January 30, and again at our annual Grape Disease and Insect Management workshop on March 28. We hope to see you there.


Botrytis Bunch Rot: Winemaking Implications and Considerations

By Dr. Molly Kelly, Enology Extension Educator, Department of Food Science

In a previous post, Bryan Hed discussed early fruit zone leaf removal and its effects on the development of Botrytis bunch rot and sour rot. This is a good time to review the implications of molds and fruit rots on wine composition and quality. I will also discuss remedial actions in the winery.

Screenshot 2018-06-01 08.49.50Here we will focus on the most common bunch rot pathogen of mature berries, Botrytis cinerea. How severe can Botrytis bunch rot be before wine quality is impacted? This will depend on the type of rot as well as winemaking techniques however, even low levels of infection have been shown to negatively impact wine quality. Red wine quality was shown to be affected by as low as a 5% infection rate of B. cinerea. Extended skin contact in red winemaking can increase the effect of bunch rots on the finished wine.  While B. cinerea can be linked with sour rot, it is more commonly associated with other fungi including Aspergillus spp. Sour rot is caused by yeast, acetic acid and other bacterial growth. When acetic acid bacteria, yeast and filamentous fungi are present together, high levels of acetic acid can result. Berries infected with sour rot have a distinct vinegar smell that may be combined with the presence of ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate is an ester described as smelling like nail polish remover.

Laccases are enzymes produced by fungi. They break down anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins which are important phenolic compounds that contribute to palate structure and wine color. In white wines, some aromatic compounds can be oxidized resulting in the production of earthy aromas.

The largest change in must chemistry as a result of Botrytis growth is seen in amounts of sugars and organic acids. Up to 70 to 90% of tartaric and 50-70% of malic acid can be metabolized by the mold. Resulting changes in the tartaric:malic ratio cause titratable acidity to decrease and pH to increase.

There may also be clarification issues as a result of infection. The fungi produce polysaccharides including β1-3 and β1-6 glucans as well as pectins as a result of the production of enzymes capable of degrading the cell wall. In the presence of alcohol, pectins and glucans aggregate causing filtration difficulties. To mitigate this issue, pectinolytic and glucanase enzymes can be used. When adding enzymes allow at least six hours prior to bentonite additions.

Botrytis cinerea strains differ in the amount of laccase produced. This enzyme can lead to oxidation of aroma/flavor compounds and browning reactions. It can be resistant to sulfur dioxide and not easily removed with fining agents. Bentonite may remove enough laccase to minimize oxidative problems. For varieties where the potential for oxidation is increased, ascorbic acid additions can be added to juice. Since Botrytis uses ammonia nitrogen there is less available for yeast metabolism. Vitamins B1 and B6 are also depleted. Therefore supplementation with nitrogen and a complex nutrient is required. Yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) should be measured and adjusted accordingly to avoid stuck fermentations and production of hydrogen sulfide. Also consider inoculating with low nitrogen-dependent yeast and use more than the standard amount of 2 lbs. /1000 gallons.

Wine off-flavors and aromas result from a number of compounds when made from grapes with Botrytis(and other bunch rot organisms). Descriptors include mushroom and earthy odors from compounds such as 1-octen-3-one, 2-heptanol and geosmin. Since fruitiness can be decreased, the use of mutés (unfermented juice) from clean fruit can be added to the base wine to improve aroma. Botrytis also secretes esterases that may hydrolyze fermentation esters. Monoterpenes found in varieties such as Muscat, Riesling and Gewürztraminer can also be diminished.

When Botrytis infection is present, consider the following processing practices in addition to those mentioned above.

  • Remove as much rot as possible in the field and sort fruit once it arrives at the winery. Using sorting tables is a great way to improve overall wine quality.
  • Whole-cluster press whites, using very light pressure, and discard the initial juice.
  • Harvest fruit cool and process quickly. Sulfur dioxide can be added to harvest bins to inhibit acetic acid bacteria.
  • Enological tannin additions will bind rot-produced enzymes. They can also bind with protein and decrease the bentonite needed to achieve protein stability. Note: Remember to not add tannins and commercial enzymes at the same time since tannins are known enzyme inhibitors. After an enzyme addition allow six to eight hours before adding tannins.
  • Minimize oxygen uptake since laccase activity is inhibited in the absence of oxygen. Inert gas can be used at press, during transfers and to gas headspace.
  • Use a commercial yeast strain that will initiate a rapid fermentation. The resulting carbon dioxide will help to protect against oxidation.
  • Once fermentation is complete, rack right away. Both Botrytis and laccase settle in the lees.
  • Phenolic compounds are the main substrate for fungal enzyme activity. Removal of undesirable phenolic compounds can be achieved using protein fining agents (ex: gelatin, casein, isinglass). The synthetic polymer PVPP can also be used in juice or wine to remove oxidized phenolic compounds.
  • Only cold soak clean fruit. Avoid cold soak and extended maceration on Botrytisinfected fruit as this may encourage fungal and bacterial growth.

As always, it is best to avoid rot-compromised fruit, however, using these practical winemaking tips should help to minimize negative impacts on wine production and quality.

References

DeMarsay, A. Managing Summer Bunch Rots on Wine Grapes, Maryland Cooperative Extension.http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/viticulture/ManagingSummerBunchRots.pdf. Accessed 7 May 2018.

Ribereau-Gayon, P. 1988. Botrytis: Advantages and Disadvantages for Producing Quality Wines. Proceedings of the Second International Cool Climate Viticulture and Oenology Symposium. Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 319-323.

Steel, C., J. Blackman, and L. Schmidtke. 2013. Grapevine Bunch Rots: Impacts on Wine Composition, Quality, and Potential Procedures for the Removal of Wine Faults. J. Agric. Food Chem. 61: 5189-5206.

Zoecklein, B. 2014. Fruit Rot in the Mid-Atlantic Region, On-line Winemaking Certificate Program, Wine Enology Grape Chemistry Group, Virginia Tech. http://www.vtwines.info/. Accessed 16 April 2018.

Zoecklein, B. 2014. Grape Maturity, On-line Winemaking Certificate Program, Wine Enology Grape Chemistry Group, Virginia Tech.http://www.vtwines.info/. Accessed 16 April 2018.

 

 

 

GRAPE DISEASE CONTROL 2018, Part 2

Bryan Hed, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, Penn State Extension

With a new season underway, I’d like to talk about some of the recent grape disease research that’s being conducted at Penn State. For this blog, we revisit Grapevine leafroll disease and leaf removal for fruit rot control.

Grapevine leafroll disease or GLD is associated with the presence of phloem inhabiting plant viruses of the family Closteroviridae. These viruses generally cause a degeneration of the primary phloem in shoots, leaves, and cluster stems. There are currently five species of grapevine leafroll-associated viruses; GLRaV-1, 2, 3, 4, and 7, and these viruses, especially GLRaV-1 and 3 have been spread across long distances (worldwide) through the sale and distribution of infected nursery material. Short distance spread of GLRaV-1, 3, and 4, within the vineyard or between adjacent vineyards, can occur by phloem-feeding insect vectors, specifically species of mealybugs and scales. No vectors have yet been discovered for GLRaV-2 and 7, which don’t appear to be as commonly found in northeastern vineyards.

The most obvious symptoms of the disease are cupping and loss of chlorophyll in the leaves in late summer and fall, during the ripening period. On red-fruited varieties, like Vitis vinifera‘Cabernet Franc’, leaves of infected vines can display red coloration of the interveinal tissue, while veins remain green. On white-fruited varieties like Chardonnay, symptoms are less noticeable and leaves tend to look yellowish and cupped. These symptoms are not necessarily diagnostic of the disease and may be confused with symptoms of nutrient deficiencies, water stress, and even crown gall. Therefore confirmation of infection by GLRaVs can only be made in the laboratory through serological or molecular analysis of phloem tissues in leaf petiole or dormant cane samples of suspect vines. More significant, and perhaps less recognized effects of GLD are reduced yield and vegetative growth, and even lower cold hardiness–a factor of critical importance for varieties grown in the northeastern U.S. GLD can also lead to a delay in fruit maturity with negative effects on fruit chemistry at harvest (lower soluble solids, higher titratable acidity), and reduced color development in red grapes of V. vinifera grapevines; all factors that might adversely impact perceived wine quality. Vineyards can be scouted annually for GLD during the ripening period, and tissue samples from symptomatic vines can be sent to a laboratory for confirmation.

There is no curative treatment for GLD as infection by GLRaVs is permanent, and the disease is best managed through removal or roguing of infected vines and replanting with certified virus-free material. So if you’re planning to order vines soon for planting a new Vitis vinifera vineyard next spring, I would strongly suggest the use of certified material. Research has shown that local spread of GLRaV-1, 3, and 4 can be minimized by targeting mobile stages of the vectors (mealybug and soft scale crawlers) with well-timed insecticide applications. There are no known sources of resistance to GLRaVs among Vitis species and these viruses have been found in V. labrusca, to Vitis interspecific hybrids, and V. vinifera. Infections of V. labrusca appear to remain latent or dormant and have not been shown to result in visual symptoms of the disease or economic impact, though research on native varieties has been minimal. On the other hand, V. vinifera is severely affected, and GLD has been shown to result in substantial economic losses among those cultivars.

Grapevine leafroll disease is nothing new to most of the world and symptoms of the disease were noted in French vineyards 165 years ago. But it seems relatively new to the northeastern U.S. grape and wine industry partly because V. vinifera grapevines, the species most dramatically affected, are relatively new to this industry. Therefore, as the acreage of V. vinifera in the northeast continues to expand and become a larger part of the premium wine industry, our encounters and frustrations with GLD will likely increase.

Surveys conducted in New York, Virginia, Ohio, and more recently, Pennsylvania, have confirmed the presence of these viruses throughout the major grape growing regions of the northeast. In Pennsylvania, we began our efforts by conducting an online survey to collect information from grape growers. In July of 2017, a link to a brief online questionnaire was sent out to 105 Pennsylvania wine grape growers across the Commonwealth to collect information about what varieties they grow, whether or not they have seen symptoms of leafroll virus in their vineyards, and if they would be willing to cooperate in the confidential collection of tissue samples from their vineyards blocks for determining the presence of these viruses.

In this initial phase of the project, sample collection focused on four cultivars of Vitis vinifera (Cabernet franc, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling) and one French hybrid cultivar, Chambourcin, that were deemed among the most important cultivars in the PA industry. Twenty-eight cooperators were growing these cultivars and were selected for tissue collection. Growers were individually contacted via email and arrangements were made to collect leaf petiole samples from their vineyard blocks. Of these 28 growers, 22 reported they had seen leafroll-like symptoms in their vineyards. In late summer/early fall of 2017, samples were collected from 42 vineyard blocks from 16 locations. Samples were collected from symptomatic and non-symptomatic vines, in a randomized manner, and transported back to the laboratory and stored at 4°C until serological analysis by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA.

Overall, about 36% of the 42 blocks were positive for leafroll virus in 2017. Fourteen percent of the Chambourcin blocks sampled contained vines that tested positive for leafroll virus 1 and/or 3. Amongst the V. vinifera blocks sampled, 39% contained vines that tested positive for leafroll virus 1 and/or 3. Specifically, 29, 38, 42, and 50% of the Riesling, Pinot noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet franc blocks were positive for leafroll virus, respectively. At one location where we were able to collect data on all four V. vinifera cultivars and where there were many vines positive for leafroll virus among all cultivars, there was a good correlation among red varieties between vines that showed symptoms (red, curled leaves) and vines that tested positive. However, among white varieties (Riesling and Chardonnay) the correlation was poor. This may indicate that it is harder to visually identify suspicious vines among white cultivars than it is among reds.

It appears that grapevine leafroll viruses are widespread and can be found in many grape growing areas of Pennsylvania. Among the varieties sampled in 2017, Cabernet franc was the most heavily infected by the viruses. However, this could change as we plan to expand the survey into more vineyards in 2018 which we were not able to reach in 2017. We also have identified healthy and infected grapevines within the same vineyard. These vineyards can be revisited in subsequent seasons to test disease spread to healthy vines. Furthermore, studies will be performed to test the impact of grapevine leafroll disease on grape quality and productivity in Pennsylvania, with the ultimate goal to mitigate the economic impact of the disease on the PA wine industry.

These surveys are an important and necessary first step toward determining the impact of GLRaVs and their associated disease. These viruses can have a significant impact on vineyard health and fruit quality, especially for those operations invested in the culture of premium V. vinifera. It is therefore essential for academic institutions to continue to develop research programs around this important group of pathogens and create a growing body of information that will help vineyard managers reduce their spread and impact. Below are some references that I drew from for this bit on leafroll viruses and GLD. The last reference is available free, online, and is a great review of GLD by some of the leading experts from New York, California, and Washington.

Bahder, B., Alabi, O., Poojari, S., Walsh, D., and Naidu, R. 2013. A Survey for Grapevine Viruses in Washington State ‘Concord’ (Vitis x labruscana L.) Vineyards. Plant Health Progress, August 5, 2013. American Phytopathological Society (online).

Compendium of Grape Diseases, Disorders, and Pests. 2nd edition, 2015. Editors Wayne F. Wilcox, Walter D. Gubler, and Jerry K. Uyemoto. The American Phytopathological Society. Pp. 118-119.

Naidu RA, Rowhani A, Fuchs M, Golino D, Martelli GP. 2014. Grapevine leafroll: a complex viral disease affecting a high-value fruit crop. Plant Dis. 98: 1172–85. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270339365_Grapevine_Leafroll_A_Complex_Viral_Disease_Affecting_a_High-Value_Fruit_Crop

More on Botrytis bunch rot/sour rot control from the church of fruit-zone leaf removal

The practice of leaf removal for bunch rot control is based on concepts developed many years ago by lots of research that examined its effects on fruit-zone microclimate, source limitation, and fruit set, among other things. In short, removal of leaves from nodes in the fruit-zone increases sunlight exposure, air circulation, and pesticide penetration to developing fruit. This creates a fruit zone environment that is much less conducive to the development of Botrytis and other harvest-rot-inducing microorganisms that prefer to do their dirty work in darkness, still air and high humidity. Indeed, the most consistently successful bunch rot control programs will not simply rely on Botrytis specific fungicides but will integrate cultural methods like fruit-zone leaf removal

Fruit-zone leaf removal has generally been applied between fruit set and veraison. But there is a growing body of information being developed around early fruit zone leaf removal(ELR) and its effects on the development of Botrytis bunch rot and sour rot. ELR is the removal of leaves in the fruit zone before, or at the beginning of, bloom, and interest in this area of research has increased in several areas of the world in recent years. For example, recent research in Italy by Stefano Poni and his colleagues details the effects of ELR on crop load management, fruit and wine quality, and disease control, especially for late season bunch rots. Here in the U.S., research to study the effects of ELR is being conducted in places like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, among other areas. But why is there added interest in ELR for bunch rot control?

In addition to fruit zone environment, cluster compactness plays a large role in harvest rot development. A three-year study we conducted with Vignoles over 15 years ago clearly showed that the more compact the cluster (measured as the number of berries per length of the cluster), the more rot we observed developing in that cluster. It’s no accident that many of the most bunch rot susceptible varieties typically produce clusters of tight or compact architecture (Chardonnay, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Riesling, Vignoles). The removal of the most mature, photosynthetically active leaves (those in the fruit zone) before or during bloom, starves the inflorescences for sugars and reduces the number of flowers that set fruit. Fewer berries per cluster generally result in looser clusters that develop less bunch rot. Taken together, ELR combines the benefits of an improved fruit zone environment with less susceptible clusters and generally greater reductions in bunch rot development than what would be achieved with post fruit set leaf removal (which would not, theoretically, reduce cluster compactness). When we examined ELR for six consecutive seasons in our experimental Chardonnay vineyard, we found that we could eliminate two Botrytis-specific fungicide sprays and achieve harvest rot control that was equivalent to, or better than, a full Botrytis spray program (four sprays). This adds to the appeal of ELR as Botrytis fungicides are often the most expensive fungicide inputs in rot control programs, and reducing chemical pesticide inputs is a significant response to the growing public interest in agricultural products with a healthier profile (though some may debate how relevant a healthier profile is to the consumption of wine!).

But there are potential drawbacks to ELR (it’s always something). For example, the reduction in berry number per cluster generally results in a reduction in cluster weight that can result in a reduction in yield. This can be a downside to ELR in operations where yield reduction is unacceptable to production goals. However, over the course of the six years in our Chardonnay experiment, we were able to minimize or eliminate yield reduction by ELR, while maintaining bunch rot reductions. So reductions in yield by ELR can be managed to some extent. Also, in our experience, ELR seemed more effective on some varieties (Chardonnay and Vignoles) than others (Pinots?) in terms of reducing compactness and bunch rot. There were also seasonal variations from year to year. So there is some level of inconsistency with this method; sometimes the rot reductions are statistically significant and sometimes they aren’t.

More recently, research with ELR has been taken a step further to examine the mechanization of this practice; manual leaf removal is expensive and time-consuming, and timing can be critical. Experiments over the past several years in Europe and the U.S. have shown that the use of air pulse leaf removal technology can remove enough fruit zone leaf area (about 35-50% of that which would be achieved by hand removal (100%)) to mimic the effects of manual leaf removal. As we expected, this technology appears to work most efficiently (removes the most leaf tissue in the fruit-zone) on more upright, two-dimensional training systems like vertical shoot position (VSP) or four-arm kniffen systems, when compared to more three-dimensional training systems like single, high-wire, no-tie systems. Mechanization is often the key to greater adoption of a practice, but only if it improves economic sustainability. An air pulse leaf removal system can represent an investment of tens of thousands of dollars. This would hardly be cost-effective for operations with just a few acres to treat per season. However, large farms that have lots of acres to treat may benefit through mechanization of ELR. Also, in regions where there is a concentration of wine grape acreage (ie, the Lake Erie region, Finger Lakes, etc), this machinery could be shared, or the work contracted, to ease the capital investment necessary on a per farm basis.

So ELR is not a silver bullet. I would instead consider it some buckshot in a silver shotgun shell that is still under development; it can be an important component of an effective, integrated bunch rot control program. If you have bunch rot susceptible varieties such as those mentioned above, and would like to apply this practice in your vineyard, I would recommend you test it out on a few vines first and compare the results to the rest of your vineyard (all other things being equal) to see if this is something that will work for you. As I mentioned above, the results may vary somewhat from one variety to the next and from one season to the next.

And one last thing for wine grape growers with sour rot susceptible varieties: please review Wayne Wilcox’ newsletter from last year (June 2017) regarding the Cornell research on sour rot control. Wayne’s graduate student, Dr. Megan Hall, completed some groundbreaking work on the biology of grape sour rot and the development of effective ways to minimize it by targeting fruit flies in the vineyard.

 

 

 

 

Grapevine Bud Break 101

By Dr. Michela Centinari, Assistant Professor of Viticulture, Department of Plant Science

Grape growers across Pennsylvania would agree that grapevines are breaking bud later this spring compared to the past few years. Some of you might be relieved and are hoping that a late bud break will reduce the likelihood of spring frost injury, particularly for those cultivars that tend to break buds early, while others might wonder if a late bud break will mean a shorter growing season and what impact this might have on fruit and wine chemistry.

This might be a good opportunity for a short review on bud break (or bud burst if you prefer) and some of the major factors that influence it.

What is bud break?

Bud break is one of the grapevine’s key growth or phenological stages. Phenology is defined as “the study of the timing of natural phenomena that take place periodically in plants and animals1.” Many vineyard operations related to canopy, nutrient, disease and insect management are conducted at specific phenological stages, so it is important for growers to record dates for bud break and other important growth stages.

Bud break is commonly described as “the appearance of green tissue through the bud scales2” or “the emergence of a new shoot from a bud during the spring3.”   There are several systems used to precisely identify bud break and other key phenological stages. One of the systems most widely used today is the modified Eichhorn Lorenz (E-L) system, which was developed by Eichhorn and Lorenz in 1977, modified by Coombe in 19954, and later revised by Coombe and Dry in 20043.  A primary reason why the E-L system was revised multiple times was that the visual characteristics during the early stages of bud growth might vary among cultivars. For example, in some cultivars buds “emerge as hair-covered cone from between the scale without any sign of green tissues” while in other cultivars buds can have “green tips visible early through the hairs1.” To avoid, or at least reduce confusion, the latest E-L system modification (2004) defines grapevine bud break when leaf tips are visible (Figure 1).

Screenshot 2018-05-14 18.29.50.png

Although there might be slight differences in how growers or scientists define bud break, using a consistent method across years and cultivars is important in order to make comparisons.  Photos of the modified E-L system and information on how to use grapevine phenology to improve vineyard management can be found by clicking on these hyperlinks: modified E-L system by The Australian Wine Research Institute and Grapevine Phenology Revisitedby Fritz Westover5.

Why was bud break late this year in Pennsylvania?

Grapevine phenology is strongly tied to air temperature. Once buds fulfill their chilling requirements they are in a state of eco-dormancy, which means they are dormant only because of cool or cold weather. In temperate regions, buds tend to reach this state by early winter, therefore, warm weather in late winter or early spring might result in early bud break and consequently increase the risk of spring frost injury.

An air temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) has traditionally been used as the base temperature for grapevines, as it is the temperature threshold below which grapevines will not grow. Hence, mean daily temperatures above approximately 50 °F (or, more specifically, 46 to 50 °F) induce bud break and shoot growth6. Grapevine base temperature is higher than that reported for fruit trees, such as apple, peach, cherry, and apricot (the base temperature ranges from approximately 39 to 41 °F)7. Base temperature for bud development varies between grapevine species and cultivars, and the physiological basis of this thresholds is still unclear2.

Over the years, many models have tried to use temperature data to predict bud break and other key phenological stages. Some models are based on the accumulation of temperatures above the mean daily temperature of 50 °F, for example, Growing Degree Days (GDD), while others use temperature averages rather than summations8. However, there is not(at least to my knowledge) a solid and simple formula that we can use to predict when bud break will happen.

GDD calculated from January 1 to bud break may not be a very good way to answer the question: Are we going to have an early bud break?  Hans Walter-Peterson, Finger Lakes Grape Program, Cornell University, used data collected over many years in the Lake Erie region to show that the date of bud break for Concord was not well correlated with GDD (base 50 °F) accumulated from January 1 to bud break. Using the total GDD for this period, however, does not take into consideration when GDD accumulates. For example, having seven consecutive days with mean temperature above 50 °F might not be the same of having seven days with the same temperature but interspaced by a long period of cool/cold weather with mean temperatures below 50 °F.

Although further studies are needed to clarify the relationship between bud break and temperature, air temperature still remains the dominating factor affecting bud break.  The number of GDD accumulated from January 1 through April 30 in 2018 across Pennsylvania was definitely lower than the accumulated GDD during the same months in 2017 (Table 1). This indeed had an influence on grapevine bud break occurring later in 2018 compared to 2017.

Screenshot 2018-05-14 18.30.51

Time versus rate of bud break

While the number of GDD accumulated from January 1 through April 30, 2018, was lower than the same period in 2017, the number of GDD accumulated during the first week of May 2018 was, however, much higher than the number accumulated during the same period in 2017 (Table 2). Although bud development started later this year, you might have noticed a greater rate of bud break or higher speed of bud development due to consecutive days of high, above average daily temperatures at the beginning of May.  The rate of bud break increases as the air temperature rises above 50 ℉ up to approximately 86 ℉ (30 °C). However, at higher temperatures, the rate of bud break might start to decline6.

Screenshot 2018-05-14 18.31.19

Other factors to consider:

Species and cultivars:  The base temperature requirements vary amongst grape species (e.g., V. berlandieri > V. rupestris > V. vinifera > V. riparia) and cultivars (for example, Riesling > Chardonnay)6. Regardless of the seasonal weather conditions, the order of bud break across different species and cultivars tends to be consistent. Those with a lower base temperature threshold will break buds earlier than those with a higher base temperature. For example, Chardonnay always bursts earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Soil and root temperature: There is contradictory evidence about the role of soil and root temperature on the timing of bud break. Studies conducted in California9,10found that Cabernet Sauvignon bud break was positively correlated with soil temperature: bud break occurred several days earlier when soil temperature increased from 52 ℉ to approximately 77 °F.  In a more recent study, however, soil temperature did not influence the timing of Shiraz bud break11.

Number of buds left at pruning: The number of buds (or nodes) retained at pruning (24 to 72 per vine) had little influence on bud break and other phenological stages of Sauvignon Blanc vines up to veraison12.

Bud position along the cane: When dormant canes are left upright, the more distal buds generally tend to break first and suppress the growth of the buds at the base of the cane (closer to the cordon) (Figure 2). This phenomenon is called apical dominance or, more precisely, correlative inhibition. In frost prone areas, to delay bud break of cordon trained vines, canes can be pruned back to 2-bud spurs when the distal buds reach bud break. For more information please refer to a past blog post: How does delaying spur pruning to the onset or after bud burst impact vine performance?

Screenshot 2018-05-14 18.31.41

In some cultivars, for example, Cabernet Franc, correlative inhibition may cause inconsistent bud break in cane-pruned vines.  Meaning that buds located in the central part of the cane might not open or they might develop shorter, weaker shoots than those positioned at the beginning or at the end of the cane. There are, however, practices that can be used to promote uniform bud break along the canes, these include bending or arching (Figure 3), and partial cracking of canes6.

Screenshot 2018-05-14 18.42.27

Age of the vine: Within the same cultivar, the timing of bud break and other key phenological stages may vary between young vines that are not in full production yet (3rd leaf or younger) and mature, established vines (4th leaf or older)5.

References

  1. Iland P, Dry P, Proffitt T, Tyerman S. 2011. The grapevine: From the science to the practice of growing vines for wine. Patrick Iland Wine Promotions.
  2. Creasy GL and Creasy LL. 2009. Grapes. Wallingford, UK; Cambridge, MA: CABI.
  3. Coombe BG and Dry P. 2004. Viticulture 1 – Resources. 2nd edition. Winetitle
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