I attended the 2013 Ohio Grape and Wine Conference held in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin, Ohio February 18-20, 2013. Historically named “The Short Course,” this annual event allows growers and producers to improve their skills and education with topics that relate to their own experiences. Arriving early Sunday afternoon allowed me to preview the conference site and meet a speaker for the event and chat with him about his company. That man was Lee Deleeuw of Superior Wind of Orchard-Rite, and his company sells wind machines, which, coincidentally, installed the wind machine at Chalet Debonné, where I worked on my practicum hours for VIN 111 – Introduction to Viticulture.
Summary of one of the presentations that really impressed me
One of the presentations that impressed me and added to my viticulture practice experiences was that of effective disease management (spray) programs, presented by Dr. Mike Ellis, Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, OARDC. Dr. Ellis covered topics that connected actual decisions on pesticide choices for problems mentioned in my VESTA viticulture practicums. Because of safety regulations involving storage and application of pesticides, practicum hours have involved in-depth discussions of spray programs. Working through the recommended spray program intervals and chemicals used as part of Dr. Ellis’ program provided additional information that was missing from the practicum hours.
During his presentation, Dr. Ellis covered controls for phomopsis cane and leaf spot, with pictures that allowed me to see disease symptoms similar to those on canes I pruned as part of my VIN 113 – Winter Viticulture practicum at Markko Vineyard. Dr. Ellis also covered black rot, downy and powdery mildews, and grape anthracnose with discussion of cultural practices, such as weed control and canopy management that can help to minimize infestations. All through his presentation, Dr. Ellis reinforced that one approach alone (chemicals or canopy management) will not provide consistent prevention. When used in concert with each other, disease management can be very successful.
One new term learned as part of this presentation was “ontogenic resistance,” a point of three to four weeks after bloom where fruit is no longer susceptible to infection by black rot, powdery or downy mildew. According to the Cornell University Appellation Cornell Research Focus publication, “Climate, Duration of Bloom, and the Window of Risk for Grapevine Diseases”:
Age-related changes in a plant’s susceptibility to disease, which we call ontogenic resistance, are a common phenomenon. Plant tissues, organs, and even whole plants can change in susceptibility to pathogens as they age and develop through phonological stages during the growing season. Substantial changes can occur over relatively short periods of time, creating critical periods of susceptibility that, once understood and quantified, can be of great relevance to forecasting epidemic development and improving the performance of disease management programs.
I found this conference to be extremely beneficial to my VESTA viticulture studies. It provided me with opportunities to meet and talk with growers willing to share their own start-up experiences. Being able to ask others the standard question of “What would you do differently now that you’ve actually completed your start-up/initial planting?” allowed me to build a frame-of-reference to the pitfalls of creating a vineyard from scratch (dirt). Reinforcing site selection as critical to not only promote healthy vines but to also reduce disease pressure that can impact vine capacity and fruit quality keeps the core topics covered in my VESTA studies at the forefront of my mind as I begin looking for suitable land to start my vineyard.
In addition to being a KSUA Viticulture and Enology student, K. Crowley is an IT Manager at a local division of a nationwide business. In her spare time, this MBA-holding professional is crafting her business plan for starting a vineyard and winery in N.E. Ohio.