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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Production and Genetic Improvement Research Unit » Research » Research Project #438281

Research Project: Improved Fruit, Grape and Wine Products through Precision Agriculture and Quality Component Evaluation

Location: Horticultural Crops Production and Genetic Improvement Research Unit

2021 Annual Report

This project’s overall goal is to refine agricultural management practices that growers use to improve fruit and fruit product quality. Objective 1: Determine the impacts of variety selection and production management practices on fruit and product quality components to optimize practices for superior fruit and wine production. [NP 305, Component 1, Problem Statement 1B] Subobjective 1A: Determine primary and secondary metabolites and their targeted analyses; evaluate and optimize analytical methods where insufficient data exists. Subobjective 1B: Evaluate developed quality component measurements on new or improved fruit and fruit products, and link to agricultural management. Objective 2: postponed until vacany is filled. Objective 3: Enhance management practices for small fruit production systems by optimizing soil health, weed suppression, and the interplay between plants and ecosystem dynamics for desired outcomes.

Project objectives will be accomplished by integrating research across three core disciplines: food chemistry/phytochemical analysis, crop physiology, and plant breeding. A systematic approach, with targeted analyses of fruit quality compounds, will be utilized to predict the magnitude that environmental factors and cultural practices impart to fruit quality. This strategy will allow us to improve and define analytical methods for plant metabolite analyses that advance our comprehension of the interactions between canopy management, vine nutrient treatments, water regimes, vineyard microbiome, vine virus status, and cultivar/genotype selections have upon fruit development, fruit quality components, and vine physiology. An additional growing season will be employed, if necessary, to account for interruptions during the experimental treatment or sampling schedules.

Progress Report
Research is ongoing for Objectives 1 and 3, under NP305 Component 1B; Productive and Profitable Systems for Sustainable Production of Temperate Fruit and Nut Crops. During the previous year, selected chemical and field methods were employed for exploring the relationships between climate, growing region, agricultural practices, abiotic stresses, biotic stresses, genotypes/cultivars, and their effects on crucial fruit quality components of food systems. ARS scientists in Parma, Idaho, and Prosser, Washington, (worksites of Corvallis, Oregon) proposed agricultural management, soil health optimization, soil-plant ecosystem, food production and safety practice improvements to advance fruit and fruit product quality. This benefits growers, fruit processors, researchers, and consumers that support U.S. agriculture’s economic position in a globally competitive marketplace. In support of Objective 1, research was conducted on how vintage, growing region, climate, vineyard management, biotic/abiotic stressors, and microbiome alter wine grape quality components important for healthy fermentation and wine quality. We examined how vine nutrient status, vine virus status, and grape juice/must microbiome (independently) influence wine grape quality. Ongoing phenolic analyses were conducted on samples obtained from the deficit vine nutrient project. While some grapevine viruses are detrimental to grapevine health, crop load ratio, fruit characteristics, and ultimately to wine quality, others caused only minor issues. It is important to identify how specific grape vine viruses impacts grape quality. Vine virus identification in commercial Idaho vineyards was the first step towards constructing virus diagnostic tools, tailored to the growing area that can be used to mitigate future losses from vine infections. Grapevine red blotch virus was identified in Idaho commercial vineyards for the first time. Research on how specific vine viruses, like Grapevine red blotch virus, influence healthy fermentation and quality components for three growing seasons was completed in cooperation with commercial collaborators. Research on grape juice/must microbiome compositions were examined for the same winegrape clone from 15 vineyard sites for two vintages, and linked to basic fruit quality measurements. Results from these data will allow growers to make informed decisions regarding vine rouging (the current method to address Grapevine red blotch virus) without decreasing grape quality or increasing production costs. In addition, the results provide a better understanding of grape microbiome diversity. In support of Objective 3, an evaluation of soil health challenges faced by wine grape growers in the arid viticultural regions of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho was initiated to identify soil health research areas of grower interest. Soil samples from grower-identified “problematic” soils are being collected and analyzed for pH, nutrients, salts, and organic matter. To further the basic research aspects of Objective 3, progress was made in establishing a relationship with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to utilize national lab resources to study the interplay between plants and soils for the identification of particulate organic matter, such as root fragments, in X-ray computed tomography images of soil aggregates. As part of this collaboration, progress was made in developing a workflow to apply deep learning tools, like those used by self-driving cars for navigation, for the automatic detection and quantification of roots growing in soils. This workflow can be applied to any image data set, allowing for the identification and quantification of complex features in images. More basic computer vision tools and associated code were also developed and made publicly available to count and measure leaves and leaf area in digital images, as well as measure root area and surface area. In alignment with Objective 3, these tools can help researchers and growers automate the tedious task of measuring plant growth properties when trying to quantify the influence of soil health-improving practices on plant growth.

1. Lower grape quality due to Grapevine red blotch virus. Viruses, such as Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV), can have negative impacts on both vine productivity and fruit quality. ARS researchers in Parma, Idaho, with University of Idaho collaborators and industry members, were the first to report on GRBV grape quality in Idaho on ‘Syrah’ grapes. Findings from this work indicate GRBV may negatively affect wine quality by lowering grape sugars and pigments. The findings also reinforce the importance of obtaining GRBV-free planting material and monitoring vineyards for GRBV. If the virus becomes widespread, it could eventually pose a threat to the $162 billion U.S. grape industry.

2. ‘Pinot noir’ juice microbes. U.S. ‘Pinot noir’ wine is globally popular, considered among the world’s best, and contributes to California and Oregon production values of over $425 million annually. Previous research indicates grape juice/must microbes can contribute to unique regional wine characteristics. ARS scientists in Parma, Idaho, and Davis, California, with University of California, Davis, collaborators, explored the microbial composition from ‘Pinot noir’ must with respect to vintage, growing region, climate, and chemistry across California and Oregon. This research demonstrated that predictable and reproducible microbes of ‘Pinot noir’ may not exist across regions and vintages, despite controlling cultivars, winemaking practices, or vineyard locations.

Review Publications
Lee, J., Rennaker, C.D., Thompson, B.D., Karasev, A.V. 2021. Influence of Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) on Idaho ‘Syrah’ grape composition. Scientia Horticulturae. 282. Article 110055.
Finn, C.E., Strik, B.C., Yorgey, B.M., Peterson, M.E., Jones, P.A., Buller, G., Serce, S., Lee, J., Bassil, N.V., Martin, R.R. 2020. ‘Eclipse’ thornless semi-erect blackberry. HortScience. 55(5):749-754.
Steenwerth, K.L., Morelan, I.A., Stahel, R.J., Figueroa-Balderas, R., Cantu, D., Lee, J., Runnebaum, R.C., Poret-Peterson, A.T. 2021. Fungal and bacterial communities of ‘Pinot noir’ must: effects of vintage, growing region, climate, and basic must chemistry. PeerJ. 9. Article e10836.
Shellie, K., King, B.A. 2020. Application of a daily crop water stress index to deficit irrigate Malbec grapevine under semi-arid conditions. Agriculture. 10(11). Article 492.
King, B.A., Shellie, K., Tarkalson, D.D., Levin, A.D., Sharma, V., Bjorneberg, D.L. 2020. Data-driven models for canopy temperature-based irrigation scheduling. Transactions of the ASABE. 63(5):1579-1592.
Li, C., Rippner, D.A., Manavalan, L.P., Parikh, S.J. 2021. Evaluation of bacillus seed coatings on soybean phosphorus uptake in an oxisol fertilized with 32P-labeled hydroxyapatite. Plant and Soil. 464:273–287.