In 2015, OMAFRA chose OGWRI to administer the Research and Innovation Development (R&ID) portion of the Marketing Vineyard Improvement Program (MVIP). The goal of the R&ID projects is to improve the quality, productivity and adaptability of grape and wine production by promoting innovative tools, technologies, resources, knowledge and information for grape growing and winemaking. In July 2017 OGWRI entered into an agreement with OMAFRA to continue the MVIP program until March 31, 2022.
The following Projects are being funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for Year 7 (2021 -2022):
Elucidation of the cold-hardiness signaling and hormonal pathways induced by Abscisic Acid Analogs (ABA) in Merlot
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jim Willwerth
Project summary: This project will be a continuation of research projects concerning ABA analogs and a direct link to the AAFC grape cluster project. The overall program objective is to elucidate the signaling and hormonal pathways involved in cold-hardiness in a cold hardy Riesling and in a tender Merlot enhanced for cold hardiness by treatment with an ABA analog. We will also start a preliminary scouting experiment to determine the molecular mechanisms of how red blotch impacts cold acclimation and how ABA analogs improve hardiness and maintain dormancy in both healthy and red blotch virus-infected grapevines. The data collected should also enable us to identify cold hardiness-related markers to be used for best in class cultivar and clonal selection for Canadian vineyards and help to develop effective mitigation strategies to combat both climate change and red blotch virus.
Spotted Lanternfly monitoring and risk assessment
Principal Investigator: Dr. Wendy McFadden-Smith
Project summary: Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive sap-feeding planthopper native to Taiwan and China. It was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has been undergoing range expansion to other states, with recent detections in New York and Michigan. The SLF is an excellent hitchhiker. Pathways for introduction to new areas may occur via overwintering egg masses or movement of gravid (mated) females through transportation pathways. Niagara is at high risk due to the presence of favored host plants, including grapes and the invasive tree-of-heaven. Aggregations (swarms) of nymphs and adults damage plants directly by feeding on plant sap, and indirectly by excreting large amounts of honeydew (sugary waste) that promotes the development of sooty mold and interferes with photosynthesis. Reports of economic injury in Pennsylvania have occurred in commercial vineyards, where swarm feeding has resulted in yield loss, decreased sugar content in harvested grapes, and weakening and death of vines. Although SLF has not been detected in Ontario, it is a matter of time before this pest establishes itself within the province. There are no pheromones available for monitoring SLF, so field detections rely on passive traps and surveys of preferred hosts.
Early detection of SLF is critical to the success of response efforts.
Education and awareness programs are important, but on-the-ground efforts are critical for identifying populations in high-risk agricultural areas including the Niagara region. Limited monitoring of high-risk areas in Ontario was conducted by OMAFRA staff in 2018 but there is no capacity for an ongoing program. We propose to monitor for SLF along major highways as major conduits for this insect to travel from areas of infestation in the US into Canada to grape growing areas. Tree-of-heaven and black walnut are reproductive hosts of SLF that are common throughout southern Ontario. We will be geolocating potential tree-of-heaven and black walnut relative to vulnerable agricultural crops.
Field evaluation of a weather-based model for timing fungicide treatments for grapevine fungal diseases
Principal Investigator: Dr. Wendy McFadden-Smith
Project summary: A preliminary trial of the Vite.net decision support system was conducted in 2020 using GGO Davis weather station real time and forecast data at multiple sites. Fungicide sprays were applied according to recommendations by Vite.net based on weather, vine growth stage and residual activity of fungicides. Grower cooperators applied their sprays as per normal practice. Unsprayed vines were included at each site. Disease was evaluated on a weekly basis until mid-September. Results are currently being tabulated for the 2020 report; however, there were some technical challenges in 2020 that we hope to address in 2021. For example, some of the varieties that were included in our study were not in the list of varieties in Vite.net. Also, due to timing of funding relative to the start of the growing season and the requirement for equipment to be ordered, the first couple sprays were applied by the growers. Leaf wetness sensors were purchased as part of the 2020 project but only one was deployed because of the late start to the project. The team from Vite.net is willing to work with us to fine-tune the expert system to be more applicable to our varieties, conditions and fungicide products.
Magic of mushrooms: Innovative use of mycelium composite derived from pink oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus djamor) for treatment of winery wastewater and red grape juice
Principal Investigator: Dr. Belinda Kemp
Project summary: Biological approaches based on environmental biotechnology are currently focused on the development of “clean technologies" that reduce waste generation, treatment and convert waste into some useful form. These clean technologies focus on the use of biological methods for the remediation of waste. One such biological method is mycoremediation, the practice of using mushroom-derived mycelium to remove contaminants from water and soil1. Mycelium, grown from oyster mushrooms, has been found to remove pesticides from water, along with phenolic compounds, and is referred to as mycofiltration1. Fungal cell walls are present in hyphae, which form a mycelium (collective noun) of hyphal filaments, comprising a thick and complex fibrous network of compounds (e.g. glucans, mannoproteins, chitosan, cellulose). It is this network that forms the structure in mycelium-cellulose foam matrix, (strengthened by sawdust the fungi digest), that attracts phenolic compounds, and contaminants1. The interest in the use of plant-based materials in juice and wine production to clarify and/or remove undesirable compounds that negatively affect wine quality e.g. microbial stability, and phenolic compounds in red juice has also dramatically increased in recent years. The rejection of animal-based products, consumer demands for traceability, and the use of natural, sustainable materials has resulted in research into alternative products for use in the food and beverage industries.
The aims of this collaborative, multidisciplinary research is to remove undesirable compounds from winery wastewater, and phenolics from red grape juice after pressing, using a mycelium-cellulose biocomposite material in granule form as well as in filtration pad formats. The mycelium id=s derived from pink oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus djamor). The project will use mycelium bio-composite granules, and mycofiltration, and consists of two parts, 1) Mycofiltration of winery wastewater to remove phosphorous, suspended solids and decrease the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), and, 2) Remove pesticide residue and phenolic compounds from red juice prior to fermentation using mycelium bio-composite granules, and compare their efficacy to mycofiltration, and commercially available activated MostRein® PORE-TEC (bentonite-activated carbon granulate charcoal product).