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Research Project: Improving the Quality of Grapes, Other Fruits, and their Products through Agricultural Management


2017 Annual Report

Objective 1: Identify, develop, and define analysis techniques to evaluate primary and secondary metabolites of fruit, fruit products, and wine. [NP 305; C1, PS1B] Sub-objective 1.A. Determine quality indicator metabolites and analytical methods for their analysis; evaluate and optimize new methods where insufficient data exists. Sub-objective 1.B. Deploy quality component measurements to optimize agricultural practices targeted at improving product quality. Objective 2: Integrate canopy- and fruit-specific management practices in grapes and berries to enhance crop productivity and fruit quality. [NP 305; C1, PS1B] Sub-objective 2.A. Determine development of fruit quality parameters as driven by the interaction between temperature and the timing of temperature anomalies during critical periods of fruit development. Sub-objective 2.B. Quantify standard industry pruning methods for grapevines and develop formal pruning standards necessary to achieve targeted goals for canopy structure; evaluate efficacy of manual pruning and algorithm-driven mechanical systems to achieve canopy structure goals. Sub-objective 2.C. Define canopy and fruit temperature thresholds leading to reduced fruit marketability in drip-irrigated blueberry fields. Objective 3: Develop cultural management strategies that mitigate the impact of abiotic stresses (drought and cold) in winegrapes. [NP 305; C1, PS1B] Sub-objective 3.A. Determine how irrigation spatial delivery, frequency, and amount affect the photosynthesis, water use efficiency, crop load and berry maturity of winegrapes. Sub-objective 3.B. Determine the influence of seasonal water deficit on cold acclimation during bud dormancy in winegrapes.

Project objectives will be accomplished by integrating research across three core disciplines: food chemistry- phytochemical analysis, plant-microclimate interactions, and crop physiology. A systematic approach in targeted fruit quality compound analysis to predict the magnitude by which climate and cultural factors impact fruit quality components will be used. This approach will allow us to improve and define analytical methods for plant metabolite analysis that advance our comprehension of the relationships among canopy management, canopy microclimate, water management, and vine cold hardiness and their effects on fruit development, fruit quality components, and vine physiology. If weather interferes with experimental treatments and sampling, experiments will be adjusted and extended an additional growing season.

Progress Report
During the past year, we have continued to research management of agricultural practices to advance fruit and fruit product quality. Specifically, we focused on two areas of vineyard management and their influence upon winegrape quality. Vineyard floors with a cover crop were examined for how they modified vine vigor and crop load (e.g. establishing red fescue grass), while the control of light penetration through the canopy (i.e. light exclusion boxes) was studied for altering fruit compounds. We also developed, verified, and applied analytical methods, utilizing metabolite information from verified authentic fruit sources, to improve current food/dietary supplement quality control and safety issues. We created phenolic separation procedures in support of industry stakeholders promoting high-quality dietary supplements, establishing a quality assurance technique that can authenticate the ingredients sourced for their products. We demonstrated that anthocyanin (pigment) profiling by High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), as used in quality control of food ingredients, could be especially useful to dietary supplement production. Analytical method performance guidelines for determining the phenolic components of ingredients used in foods/dietary supplements were published. Under Objective 3.a, significant progress was made toward identifying the influence of drip irrigation application practices, such as water amount and event frequency, on the water use efficiency and berry composition of wine grapes. Data collected during the prior three years were analyzed and results were published in a peer-reviewed journal. Treatment application and data collection for development of a leaf-temperature-based, real-time irrigation decision-making tool is also in progress. Installation of field instrumentation in commercial and research vineyards is in progress and weekly monitoring of vine water status will begin in July 2017 and continue through September 2017. Significant progress has also been made under Objective 3.b, towards evaluating the influence of seasonal water deficit on cold acclimation during dormancy. The progression of dormancy and acquisition of cold hardiness was evaluated in the laboratory by periodically sampling grapevine cane samples from irrigation trial plots beginning in autumn of 2016 and continues through winter of 2017. Inherent differences in resistance to cold injury were identified among cultivars of wine grapes using a bioassay in the laboratory from field samples acquired prior to bud break and in the field after bud break by visual rating of vine injury severity.

1. Light exclusion influence on winegrape pigment. Anthocyanins are important natural pigments that contribute to the appearance of red grapes, and the wines that result from them. Though it is well known that anthocyanin development is linked to exposure to light and temperature, we still have no concrete understanding of how they cause anthocyanin accumulation and composition. An ARS scientist in Parma, Idaho, demonstrated that completely eliminating sunlight during berry ripening (from onset of color to harvest) alters individual anthocyanin composition when compared to a control. The white polypropylene boxes that kept experimental grape clusters in complete darkness also affected berry temperature and humidity, and these environmental factors may have contributed to the changes in anthocyanin composition as well.

2. Should we consume food or dietary supplements to obtain dietary anthocyanins? Nutraceutical manufacturers offer a vast array of small fruit-based supplement products for their potential health benefits. An ARS scientist in Parma, Idaho, found over 20% of the Rosaceae (strawberry, cherry, blackberry, red raspberry, and black raspberry) dietary supplements evaluated contained no detectable anthocyanins, or had unlabeled anthocyanins, despite packaging labels promising specific sources of anthocyanins. Anthocyanin concentrations between the dietary supplements and food products were not significantly different in mg per serving. Individual anthocyanin profiles can be used to evaluate quality of Rosaceae food products and dietary supplements. Systems to improve Rosaceae dietary supplements’ quality are needed, from source material to final products, and can aid in consumer safety.

3. Vineyard cover cropping can be used to influence grapevines. Managing vine vigor and crop load are important practices in the production of high quality winegrapes. Red fescue (perennial grass) was grown on the vineyard floor to compete with vines for water and nutrition. ARS scientists in Parma, Idaho, in collaboration with Oregon State University, determined that competition altered grapevine vegetative growth, yield, and fruit N concentrations, while cluster thinning primarily affected berry composition. Using perennial grass cover in high vigor vineyards may be an effective management strategy to reduce canopy size while maintaining sufficient canopy to ripen fruit.

4. Weather events alter bud cold hardiness and influence the readiness of dormant grapevine to resume growth. Dormancy is a state of suspended growth that grapevines of European origin (Vitis vinifera L.) use to survive exposure to freezing temperatures. Resumption of growth requires some exposure to cold, referred to as chilling requirement, which varies among cultivars. An ARS scientist in Parma, Idaho, in cooperation with collaborators at Washington State and Boise State Universities, showed that autumn weather events influenced the timing of dormancy release in the wine grape cultivars Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and that greater readiness to resume growth was associated with greater vulnerability to injury during winter warming events. The findings from this study identify inherent variability among wine grape cultivars for two phenotypic traits that could be exploited to improve cultivar site selection under changing climatic conditions.

Review Publications
Reeve, A.L., Skinkis, P.A., Vance, A.J., Lee, J., Tarara, J.M. 2016. Vineyard floor management influences 'Pinot noir' vine growth and productivity more than cluster thinning. HortScience. 51:1233-1244.
Lee, J. 2017. Light exclusion influence on grape anthocyanin. Heliyon. 3:e00243. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2017.e00243.
Lee, J., Dossett, M., Finn, C.E. 2016. Mistaken identity: Clarification of Rubus coreanus Miquel (bokbunja). In: Wrolstad, R.E., Giusti, M.M., Kalt, W., editors. Anthocyanins. Basel, Switzerland: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. p. 309-319.
Scagel, C.F., Bryla, D.R., Lee, J. 2017. Salt exclusion and mycorrhizal symbiosis increase tolerance to NaCl and CaCl2 salinity in ‘Siam Queen’ basil. HortScience. 52(2):278-287. doi: 10.21273/HORTSCI11256-16.
Lee, J. 2016. Anthocyanin analyses of Vaccinium fruit dietary supplements. Food Science and Nutrition. 4:742-752. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.339.
Finley, J., Barrett, W., Betz, J., Burdette, C., Bzhelyansky, A., Collison, M., Embuscado, M., Es-Safie, N., Fischer, B., Jennens, M., Lee, J., Mudge, E., Phillips, T., Raju, S., Royce, S., Schaneberg, B., Solyom, A., Sullivan, D., Traub, J., Wubben, J., Zhang, W., Zielinski, G., Zweigenbaum, J., Coates, S. 2015. AOAC SMPR 2015.009: Estimation of total phenolic content using Folin-C Assay. Journal of AOAC International. 98(4):1109-1110. doi: 10.5740/
Krueger, D., Arora, S., Bzhelyansky, A., Chen, P., Chlenov, A., Collison, M., Durst, R., Es-Safi, N., Giancaspro, G., Hall, G., Hammerstone, J., Ingle, P., Jennens-Clough, M., Ji, D., Ji, J., Kennedy, D., Lawson, T., Lee, J., Lock, S., Mudge, E., Neal-Kababick, J., Phillips, M., Phillips, T., Rejaei, A., Rettinger, M., Rimmer, C., R.-Haralambides, A., Royce, S., Schaneberg, B., Solyom, A., Stern, N., Sullivan, D., Szpylka, J., Wise, M.L., Yan, X., Yoo, S., Yu, K., Zhang, Y., Coates, S. 2015. AOAC SMPR 2014.007: Authentication of selected Vaccinium species (Anthocyanins) in dietary ingredients and dietary supplements. Journal of AOAC International. 98(4):1052-1054.
Cragin, J., Serpe, M., Keller, M., Shellie, K. 2017. Dormancy and cold hardiness transitions in wine grape cultivars Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. 68:195-202. doi: 10.5344/ajev.2016.16078.
Shellie, K. 2017. Above ground drip application practices alter water productivity of Malbec grapevines under sustained deficit. Journal of Agricultural Science. 9(6):1-12. doi: 10.5539/jas.v9n6p1.