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Taming wild grapes for better wine
Date:10/13/2010

northern and southern hilly parts of the state have more potential for vineyards, with Galena in Jo Davies County part of a new American viticulture region, said Shoemaker.

Since 1998 grapes, particularly cold-hardy wine grapes, have been a subject of research at the University of Illinois St. Charles Horticulture Research Center. The research was initiated by U of I scientists Robert Skirvin and Alan Otterbacher with a trial of 26 grape varieties planted on a southwest-facing slope Shoemaker noted that it was the only southwest-facing slope available in the area.

Today Shoemaker conducts research at the St. Charles Center on cultivar evaluation, cultural research, including Integrated Pest Management, and breeding new varieties of grapes.

"Cultural practices are all the methods growers use to manage the grape crop such as pest management" Shoemaker said. "Grapes are popular with many pests. There are insect challenges at every point in the growing season, especially during harvest. There are also several fungal diseases that can infect current varieties, and weeds, particularly perennial weeds such as Canada thistle, are constantly challenging growers and their grape crops."

Perhaps worst of all are the animals that love to eat grapes, Shoemaker said. Birds can decimate vineyards. At the St. Charles Center, Shoemaker manages a 1-acre vineyard of Frontenac grape which was established as a research platform in 2006. "We knew we needed a vineyard dedicated to studying the cultural practices growers use, or need to use, to successfully grow grapes for high-quality wine," he said.

On one of the research projects in the Frontenac vineyard Shoemaker is working with U of I researcher Rick Weinzierl on methods to control Japanese beetles. "We are evaluating three pesticide regimens and two cultural controls for the pest. We are also looking at spun-bonded polypropylene row covers over the top of the vines as an exclusion b
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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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