Grape Growers Gather At Regional Producers Conference At SUNY Fredonia

Dr. Golanz Badr explains how weather models can influence production practices.

PORTLAND — More than 100 area growers gathered at the State University at Fredonia recently for the annual Lake Erie Regional Grape Producers winter grape growers’ conference.

Attendees and speakers had to brave some unseasonable early morning snowfall. This year featured speakers from state DEC, Cornell University, Penn State University, state IPM Program and BCA Ag Technologies.

The day began with Dr. Terry Bates illustrating the benefits of crop load balance, right-sizing yield to the strength of a vine. He helped growers to understand that their vines need to be balanced in order to ripen a crop and continue to get the most from their vines year after year. He explained that by using sensor technology that is readily available through the LERGP program, the growers can get a more accurate view of what is going on in their vineyard. The information can then direct the growers to manage their vineyards in ways that lead to more balanced vines.

Managing for balanced crop loads requires an accurate estimation of yield. Dr. Golanz Badr introduced growers to new research designed to better predict final berry weight. Using historical weather data, Badr is attempting to create predictive tools that use weather data to increase the accuracy of estimated berry weight in mid-summer. The goal of the project is to allow growers to estimate final crop size with an error of less than 5 percent. A more accurate crop estimation allows growers to better manage low commodity prices.

The growers were encouraged to visit the trade show that was populated with many local vendors, including AgChoice Farm Credit, Farm Credit East, Arysta Life Science, Bayer Crop Science Division, BCA Ag Technologies, Clover Hill Sales, Double A Vineyards Inc, Farm Bureau, Farm Credit East, Gowan USA, Green Hoe Co. Inc, Innovative Ag, Lakeview Vineyard Equipment Inc., LandPro Equipment LLC, LaPorte Farm Equipment Inc., Larry Romance & Son Inc., Mark C Muir Crop Insurance Agency, Militello Farm Supply, Mosier-Maille Ag Consulting, NYS Wine Grape Growers, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, North East Fruit Growers Inc., Northwoods-Dillenburg Agency, Texas Refinery Corp, and USDA- Farm Service Agency.

The conference is held every year as a way to connect research directly to growers. The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch’s), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt.