Pruning is done, the WX is cold and windy, so let’s take a few minutes to provide an Research & Education Committee update for our membership. We keep a low profile but like so much of the activities and initiatives in the Michigan Wine Collaborative, a lot goes on behind the scenes all year long. Without any source of funding, we are on the receiving end, without any ability to direct research or education initiatives. We are working on this via PA 232 project and other ideas, but we are active with some 20-30 persons across the state on various Research & Education projects and programs affecting our wine industry.
Research Projects. We currently are considering participating in the following research grant applications:
- Delivering Timely IPM Information to the Michigan Grape Industries – Dr Rufus Isaacs, Dr Tim Miles, Dr Paulo Sabbatini, MSU (with Dr. Katherine East, MSU/Ext)
- Downy Mildew Fungus Management in Michigan Grapevines – Dr Tim Miles, MSU
- Early Leaf Removal Strategies Enhances Specialized Color Metabolites Accumulation and Grape Quality – Dr Paulo Sabbatini, MSU (with Dr Ilce Medina, MSU)
- Risk Ranking of Pesticides Used in Michigan Viticulture – Dr. Karen Chou, MSU (not funded but research continues at minimum pace)
- Map Modeling of Michigan Vinifera Grapes for Making Planting/investing Decisions Using Advanced Geospatial Data & Methods – Dr Robert Goodwin, MSU
MWC support is in providing letters of support indicating industry support and exchanging information with the principle investigator/research scientist. Without a funding source the MWC lacks any ability to show its level of support via financial commitments. However, the funding organizations applied to put significant weight on broad industry support. The Research & Education Committee is hopeful all of these projects are funded and thank the researchers for their commitment and hard work.
PA 232 Funding. The PA 232 Wine Grape Commission has been approved by MDARD to advance to stage 2, which involves establishing a state-wide committee of growers and winery owners to set the details and ground rules for a state referendum. This commission will also organize and participate (along with MDARD representatives) in local/regional informational input meetings prior to the referendum. The current COVID-19 crisis has stymied any progress of establishing this committee. While we have a preliminary list of members to submit to MDARD, if you have an interest in participating in this important committee, please feel free to CONTACT THE COMMITTEE. We suspect the current health crisis will delay the PA 232 referendum into the 2021 calendar year.
Education. Hopefully most of you know there are three education programs directly geared towards viticulture and winemaking inside Michigan and another, which is available on-line. We are fortunate to have both the Lake Michigan College (LMC) and Northwest Michigan College (NMC) programs in the two core wine growing regions. The LMC program offers both viticulture and winemaking with current emphasis/strength on the winemaking side, while NMC is entirely focused on viticulture. These are two-year programs with hands-on experience emphasized in both. The main MSU campus offers a 4-year Horticultural Degree with emphasis on viticulture. Then the VESTA program is offered on-line with student access to specialists and educators from across the entire USA. All of these programs have strengths…and weaknesses. The MWC goal is to maximize all of our resources to support them all in a smart way so that future students, young and “older”, can get maximum value for their time and $$$ and that our industry gets top-quality entrants into our wineries, vineyards, cellars, tasting rooms, retail outlets and restaurants. We have an extraordinary resource in our wine growing capabilities but the most valuable are its people. I have met, and will continue to meet, with the key personnel from all of these educational programs so that they can evolve in the most effective and positive direction.
R/E Resources. While I have covered above many of the great resources available to our state wine industry, I just want to ensure both the big picture and close-up view of these resources are recognized. In the SW we have not only LMC, but also the SWMHRC, which includes research vineyards, small fruit extension specialists, our Viticultural Specialist (Dr Katherine East) and a whole array of educational and field support programs for our growers. The Wine Society also is very active in supporting our industry through regional educational and networking activities. Up in the Grand Traverse region, the NMC program works closely with the MSU extension (at the NWMHRC), where another research vineyard is planted, and with Parallel 45 Wines and Vines, organizes, coordinates and communicates an annual program of practical education activities for growers, winemakers and enthusiasts. MSU is in the final stage of selecting the new Viticulturalist for the NW region. We hope to welcome that individual to our team soon. The MSU Extension program is crucial to the growth and health of our grape and wine industry in Michigan. The MWC is fully committed to supporting it, which will include constructive criticism and advice, as needed. Finally, we have available via MSU a very valuable and informative Weather Reporting and Forecasting program, called MSU Enviroweather. MSU has agricultural WX stations across the entire state. The hourly data and database are available on-line 24/7. If you have not taken advantage of this invaluable resource, you are truly missing out. For example, just open this link to the Old Mission WX station, https://enviroweather.msu.edu/weather.php?stn=old to experience the temp, rain, frost, wind, etc, etc information at your fingertips. We must thank MSU and MDARD (plus other funding sources) who have made this one more toolbox item. The MSU Extension office puts out a weekly newsletter, which includes the most recent growing conditions, WX forecasts and educational programs offered at the research centers. In closing let me tell you that MSU, in collaboration with the MWC, has re-established the Grape Team to include many of the above-mentioned persons and offices, to support our industry. We thank them and all those persons involved who work daily and diligently to help us grow great grapes, which are the basis for our great wines.
This report was produced by the Research & Education Committee Chair, Tom Petzold. Please feel free to CONTACT TOM to learn more about the committee or its activities.