Jul 27, 2016
New grape disease focus of NE Ohio Field Day

A new disease could put the squeeze on some of Ohio’s grapevines.

Called red blotch, it’s a featured topic — one of a bunch — at the Aug. 11 educational field day at the Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station in northeast Ohio.

The station, which is run by The Ohio State University, does research on growing grapes, especially grapes used to make wine. It’s at 2625 South Ridge East in Kingsville, about 65 miles east of Cleveland.

Andy Kirk, the station’s manager, said the free event, which goes from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., is for anyone interested in Ohio’s $786 million grape and wine industry, including grape growers, wine industry workers, horticulture students, and food and wine journalists.

Red blotch new but an ‘issue’ some places

Red blotch, which is caused by an insect-transmitted virus, is “new to Ohio and the U.S. in general,” Kirk said.

It’s so new experts aren’t clear how big of a problem it will be, but it’s already become an “issue of significance” in California, New York’s Finger Lakes region and Ontario, Canada, he said.

Grapes from red blotch-infected vines have less sugar in them, among other problems, which reduces their selling price and the quality of wines they can make.

Ohio State scientist Feng Qu, who’s found red blotch in some of northeast Ohio’s vineyards, is one of the event’s speakers. He’s an associate plant pathology professor in the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

What’s beneath the region’s good grapes

Also scheduled, among others, are talks by experts on:

  • Renewing grapevine trunks injured by bad winter weather, such as 2014’s polar vortex
  • The grape-friendly soil profile at the 25-acre station, which lies within the Lake Erie American Viticultural Area just a few miles south of the lake
  • The glacial history of surrounding Ashtabula County, and why that history makes the region good for growing grapes

Those speakers will come from the college, too, and from the Ashtabula Soil and Water Conservation District.

The station is part of the same college, and specifically is part of its research arm, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

For details on the event, call the Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station at 440-224-0273.





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