Grapevine Virus Management in Lodi: A Collaborative Research & Integrated Outreach Effort to Help Solve a Statewide Challenge

Principal Investigator Stephanie Bolton successfully led an outreach project entitled “Grapevine Virus Management in Lodi: A Collaborative Research & Integrated Outreach Effort to Help Solve a Statewide Challenge” during the 2018-2019 grant funding cycle. The overall objective of this continuing project is to learn how to best manage and prevent grapevine virus disease in the 110,000 acres of Crush District 11, providing outreach tools and strategies to be shared with other regions across California. Grapevine viruses pose a severe threat to the sustainability of California viticulture by decreasing yields, lowering fruit quality, and decreasing vineyard lifespans. Traditional extension is unable to meet the outreach needs of this crisis alone and decades of scientific research are still needed. The good news is that there are virus management strategies that growers can implement in the short-term while we wait for science to catch up, which can be taught through real-world, hands-on integrated outreach from a team of growers, extension personnel, pest control advisors, and scientists established as the Lodi Grapevine Virus Research Focus Group. Our team meets monthly to conduct a thorough review of regional perceptions of viruses, virus management in the literature, current virus research projects, and management of viruses locally and internationally, which we use to produce practical advice for growers.
We hosted a Mealybug & Virus Outreach Meeting (April 2018), a Mealybug ID Workshop (May 2018), a Cryptolaemus Beetle Drone Demo (July 2018), a Leafroll Virus Tailgate Talk (October 2018), and several breakfast meetings where viruses and their vectors were discussed. We produced a “Nursery Ordering 101: Viruses” booklet, draft versions of two additional virus management booklets, a red leaf handout, a mealybug poster, lists of grapevine virus resources, a threecornered alfalfa hopper handout, and a virus comparison chart. Presentations were given at the Tree & Vine Expo (Turlock) and the Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium, with more talks scheduled for the near future. Outreach articles were written for the Lodi Grower Newsletter, the Pierce’s Disease Board Newsletter, online as blogs, and by the press. The first blind ring test for all virus testing labs in California was orchestrated by the Virus Focus Group during winter 2018-2019. Two Demonstration Vineyards were established – one managing leafroll virus through rogueing and another which is a full replant situation with rootstock trials in place. Virus testing across the region is documenting case studies and has elucidated the role of leafroll virus and Freedom rootstock in a mystery vine collapse. On April 4th, 2019, we will host a second Mealybug & Virus Outreach Meeting with invited speakers Gerhard Pietersen (South Africa), Marc Fuchs (Cornell University), Kent Daane (UCCE), and James Stamp (Consultant). This event will include outreach presentations, leadership sessions, and a grapevine virus influencer dinner for long-term strategizing. Outreach materials created, workshops and meetings hosted, and the communication channels which are opening between industry sectors are of utmost importance for the winegrape industry across the state of California, as we collectively lower virus inoculum and vector populations.