In 2012, there are thirteen projects being initiated that fall within four distinct categories: quality improvement, grower education, vine certification, and research. These projects are outlined below.
Third Party Testing
Improving quality should be at the forefront of the grape growing industry. We as an industry should be striving to build on the successes of yesterday while looking for new ways to improve and succeed. Growers need to be aware of alternative viticultural and managerial practices that will help them achieve their business goals.
The projects selected by the GGO assist and give growers the tools needed to meet growing world standards. Building from the success of the third party testing pilot with and at Brock University during the 2011 harvest, the GGO will continue the pilot into 2012 building on lessons learned and input from industry. A number of requested changes will help to advance this program. Additionally during the summer of 2012, the GGO will be developing, reviewing and consulting on improving the current sampling and brix testing process. As continuous quality assessment is paramount in growing grapes, these protocols will allow the industry to institute a standardized process for sampling brix and Volatile Acid.
Inversion towers allow for a more comprehensive breakdown of temperature inversions created when warm air rests on cool air when wind speed is very low (usually below 7km/hr). These inversions usually happen during the night and can cause debilitating results to a vineyard. Inversion towers allow growers to gain knowledge about the inversion with respect to the height of the inversion and the temperature differential between the warm and cool air. These towers can assist growers in developing strategies to combat winter injury based on the information gained through inversion towers. Detecting the correct inversion layer gives growers more information when running wind machines, and can provide a more efficient management of wind machines.
Sustainability Winemaking in Ontario Module/Viticulture Component
Many wine regions throughout the world are implementing sustainable winemaking programs. The GGO participated with the wine industry in 2007 with the Sustainable Winemaking Ontario initiative. Environmentally and economically sustainable value chains are important to the long-term viability of agri-food industries. A certified sustainability program can help growers and wineries to improve production practices and quality, as well as providing a marketing opportunity as consumers demand environmentally responsible production practices.
Currently, we do not have a “certified sustainable” program in Ontario and this project is being developed so that those growers and wineries who wish to become certified may do so to meet a specific niche in the marketplace. In order to have a recognized certification system, practices from the vineyard through to the wine need to be part of the program. The intent is to incorporate existing best management practices without being overly restrictive, while at the same time providing a certification system that is comparable to other grape growing areas.
The Sustainability module that is being developed is voluntary to growers. Click here for a list of International Sustainability Programs.
The GGO in conjunction with OMAFRA has setup 4 sprayer tune-up workshops throughout the 3 major viticulture areas across Ontario. The objective is to have Dr. Jason Deveau, OMAFRA’s Application Technology Specialist, run these workshops to assist growers in improving effectiveness of pesticide application, translating to improved yield, optimize spray output to match the target and potentially reduce drift, run off and overall pesticide load.
In 2006 and 2007, Bois noir, a phytoplasmic disease, was found in British Columbia and Ontario in grapevines imported from France; and as a result CFIA imposed additional restrictions on the importation of grapevine material from France and Germany, including a total ban. As a result of this loss of supply of disease-free vines, the Grape Growers of Ontario commissioned a feasibility study “Virus-Certified Grapevines for Ontario” to examine the feasibility of developing a vine certification program for the production of disease-free grapevines in Ontario. The development of a domestic vine certification program would address this emerging and critical issue by reducing the Ontario dependency on imported vines and reduce the probability of introducing or spreading grapevine diseases. Similarly, the creation of a domestic program would allow the Ontario grape and wine industry to adapt to CFIA’s tighter boarder restrictions and international disease outbreaks; while keeping the Ontario grape and wine industry competitive through the ability to access the industry’s annual replanting requirements from a clean, economic and reliable domestic source.
The project is a national initiative to develop a domestic grapevine nursery certification program to provide plants of high phytosanitary status to Ontario and other Canadian grape growing regions. These plants would exceed current standards available to industry by addressing a wider range of horticultural and economically detrimental viruses and other diseases such as crown gall. The program would be based on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) export certification program with additional components requested by industry to address other viruses and diseases. The project would require enhancing the virus and disease testing and elimination program and Nuclear (Generation 1) level repository facilities at a national level. This will be followed by the establishment of regional Elite (Generation 2) and Foundation (Generation 3) mother blocks for the production of Certified (Generation 4) plants for sale in Ontario and other Canadian grape growers, along with possible exportation to the United States.
The Weather Innovations Network open-access climate monitoring platform has been developed to carefully monitor and provide analysis of the unique micro climatic zones within each sub-appellation. This on-going collection and analysis of data is critical to support research initiatives related to winter hardiness. It also enables growers and wineries to determine whether specific grape varieties can achieve optimum ripening potential within these zones and prerequisite conditions for the consistent production of superior wines. The project provides analysis and data collection of climatic information that assesses the unique soil and topographic conditions of each appellation and sub-appellation.
Grower Education Session
The objective of this project is to support the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration to host chardonnay seminars that will showcase the quality and unique attributes of Ontario Chardonnay. This program supports the Varietal Plan development.
The recently launched Grape Tracker online record keeping module provides growers with the ability to track and manage spray records, and harvest summaries. This online viticultural tool will require grower training sessions.
Growers will have a chance to listen and learn from experts around the world that have similar challenges. These sessions could have the potential to bring new technology to Ontario or even adapt current technology to Ontario’s landscape. We are anticipating have speakers present at various conferences for example; BC growers experiences with sustainable vineyard practices.
The GGO in conjunction with OMAFRA has the opportunity to host IPM workshops throughout the 3 major viticulture areas across Ontario. The objective is to have an IPM specialist run these workshops to assist growers in spray rotation, new products and pest identification.
Effects of Post-harvest Abscisic Acid Applications on Grapevine Cold Hardiness
Research is vital to advancing the grape growing industry. Research into techniques and resources to assist growers in combating disease pressures and winter kill while maintaining the level of quality that is currently achievable must continue. The Ontario winter is becoming milder but the fluctuation in temperatures during these very vulnerable times are increasing especially during the spring and fall when the vines are acclimating and de-acclimating. This can cause irreparable damage to grape vines. Abscisic acid (ABA) is a plant hormone that is involved in many plant processes. One of the key roles of ABA is mediating the adaptation of plants to stress (drought, salinity). Some of its key functions include leaf abscission, induction and maintenance of dormancy, growth control, as well as regulation of water loss in the plant. This project began in the fall of Year 1 and is in its final year.
Winter Injury Bud Sampling occurred during the spring of 2012 to assess the level of winter damage within Niagara and Southwestern Ontario. Within Niagara the study used 8 separate areas following the same geographic delineations as used by the 2005-2009 Winter Injury/Wind Machine project. The completed report by Ker Crop Management Services summarized the province wide grapevine bud survival results collected from Niagara and Southwestern Ontario. Cold hardiness varies dramatically from vineyard to vineyard and cultivar to cultivar due to many environmental, cultural and management variables. Following the disastrous 2012 spring, the tender fruit and apple industry have had entire crops wiped out due to cold injury. This report is critical in determining the survivability of grapevines throughout Ontario. The determination of supply is an important element for wineries.
Resource Information Development
Learning from other grape growing regions that face similar challenges such as disease pressures/cold tolerant practices is an important and necessary role of the Grape Growers of Ontario. It is anticipated staff will participate at a National Conference in BC.