Cold hardiness database helps growers combat grapevine winter injury

Winter injury is a major threat to the grape and wine industry, and this year, Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) continues to monitor and gather data for Canada’s grape growers.CCOVI, along with the Grape Growers of Ontario and KCMS Applied Research and Consulting, is continuing with its Regional Grapevine Bud Hardiness Program. With this year’s program, initiated in October, CCOVI will track the vines’ progress in acclimating to the cold to help grape growers manage winter injury for the 2011/12 season.Each winter, bud hardiness ratings from Ontario’s Designated Viticulture Areas are compiled into a database called Vine Alert. Using this data, grape growers can determine when to use protective actions such as wind machines to protect grapevines from cold injury.Preliminary studies have shown that the previous growing season has a big impact on vine hardiness, said Kevin Ker, CCOVI professional affiliate and project researcher.Researchers expect that vines may be slower to develop hardiness this fall due to the prolonged wet weather compared to last fall’s ideal conditions.“This ongoing research should help us understand why and how to develop practices to manage this situation and give growers good advice to make sure that vines are in the best shape to handle winter temperatures,” he says.At VineAlert, growers and researchers who sign up on “My Alerts” can obtain data based on location, time and cultivar and receive up-to-date notices about new winter injury data.This initiative is part of the $1.4 million in funding under agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Developing Innovative Agri-Products Initiative, which supports industry-led research and innovation. This outreach project is a collaborative effort between AAFC, the Grape Growers of Ontario, Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc., Weather Innovations Incorporated, KCMS Applied Research and Consulting and CCOVI. read more

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