Apr 25, 2017MSU Extension hires wine, grape educator
Thomas Todaro, a graduate of The Ohio State University (OSU), recently accepted an Extension educator position to serve the wine and grape industry in northwest Michigan.
Todaro will begin in his new role in August.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to identify the priorities and address the needs of Michigan’s wine grape industry through research and extension,” he said.
He will be based out of the Leelanau Government Center in Leelanau County.
A native of Ohio, Todaro’s passion for viticulture began at The Ohio State University in 2012, when he took on a research aide position in OSU’s viticulture program. Todaro held this position for two years. His dedication to viticulture research and extension led him to pursue a Master of Science degree in OSU’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, which he completed in 2016.
Todaro is currently employed by OSU and continues to conduct viticulture research at this time.
Todaro’s research focus has spanned cultural practices to improve fruit and wine quality, increase freezing tolerance of bud and cane tissues and improve efficiency in vine recovery following winter damage.
Like Michigan, Ohio vineyards also sustained severe winter damage following the 2014 and 2015 winters.
Todaro and his adviser, Imed Dami addressed the region’s industry needs for research-based information on vine recovery following severe winter injury through Todaro’s master’s thesis project, which investigated various training and pruning methods on multiple cultivars to determine optimum vine recovery practices.
He is currently in the process of publishing this research. He has delivered presentations on his work at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section annual conference. His academic accomplishments were recognized by the ASEV and ASEV-ES through two scholarships that these groups awarded him.
At OSU, Todaro participated in Extension activities including the assistance in the planning and organization of viticulture workshops, field days and presenting projects to growers in the form of newsletters, posters, educational videos and conference presentations.
Because of the nature of his research, Todaro discovered that sharing the results of his work was most effective through images and educational videos. He has produced three videos and about 10 more are forthcoming on YouTube.
MSU Extension educators and the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center are looking forward to having another colleague to serve the fruit industry in northwest Michigan. We believe that Thomas’ research and extension experience in cool climate viticulture will be put to good use in his new role as the viticulture Extension educator.
– Emily Puchubay, Michigan State University Extension