Viticulture Field Day slated at Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center

posted on July 9, 2015 8:54am

MSU plant pathologist Annemiek Schilder is among the presenters scheduled to speak at the Viticulture Field Day later this month (view larger image)
MSU plant pathologist Annemiek Schilder is among the presenters scheduled to speak at the Viticulture Field Day later this month

Rebuilding damaged vineyards after two years of significant winter injury will be the primary focus of presentations during the 26th annual Viticulture Field Day at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) July 29.

Topics include fungicide resistance in grape diseases, presented by Annemiek Schilder, Michigan State University (MSU) associate professor of plant pathology. This research has taken place in Michigan over the past six years.

“The purpose of this project is to determine a possible explanation for lowered fungicide efficacy in some vineyards and to determine the status quo so we can improve our fungicide resistance management strategies to delay the development of fungicide resistance, particularly to extend the life of new fungicide chemistries,” Schilder said.

Schilder will also discuss plant viruses affecting Michigan grapes, particularly grapevine leafroll virus, which is vectored by mealybugs.

“Grape viruses can lower grape yield and quality,” Schilder said. “Some, like tobacco ringspot virus, can kill vines. We’ve done surveys the past five years to determine which of these viruses infect grapes in Michigan.”

Paolo Sabbatini, assistant professor in the MSU Department of Horticulture, will discuss vine canopy management. Through research funded by the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Project GREEEN, Sabbatini has been studying the interactions among several viticultural factors, such as physical characteristics of both the fruit and vine,  and environmental conditions and their effects on grape quality. The research will help growers and winemakers better understand the complex relationship between vine growth and fruit quality.

“A primary interest of this research is the interaction of vine balance and crop load dynamics with grape aromas and flavors,” Sabbatini said. “As Michigan continues to evolve as a recognizable wine region, this research will help to implement advanced objective measures to quantify fruit quality that characterizes specific Michigan wine styles.”

Other topics include interplanting for changing grape varieties, irrigation of new vineyards, weed control and strategies to avoid winter injury.

The event, co-sponsored by MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension and the Michigan Grape Society, begins at 9 a.m. with a trade show. It will offer morning and afternoon workshops and a complimentary lunch. After workshops end at 4:30 p.m., participants can attend the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Showcase, followed by a steak cookout.

Additional information on the event and the registration form can be found online at The event costs $35 per person if registration is postmarked by July 17. Later registrants will be required to pay $45.

The center is located at 1791 Hillandale Road in Benton Harbor. For more information, visit