(WSYR-TV) — The Finger Lakes are known for their vineyards but the sun shines on this one a little differently.
Lance Cadle-Davidson, Grape Pathologist USDA-ARS says, “Here, we’re standing in the national grape collection. About 1400 types of grapes collected from around the world and grown in one vineyard.”
It’s part of Cornell AgriTech’s grape genetics research lab in Geneva.
Bruce Reisch, Professor of Grapevine Genetics/Breeding at Cornell University says, “This is really Noah’s ark. It’s a living collection of grape diversity from around the world and what I like to say is this it’s my candy store. When I’m shopping for traits that would really be useful in NY and beyond, they’re out here.”
This is where scientists from Cornell and the United States Department of Agriculture create new grape varieties.
Chris Gerling, Extension Associate at Cornell AgriTech says, “We’re trying to meet consumer needs, consumer demands. People want fewer sprays and grower’s want to put on fewer sprays, people want less fertilizer and grower’s want to apply less fertilizer, we all want to try to do fewer inputs so there’s less cost and less impact on the environment so we’re all trying to struggle with those challenges.”
The weather is a constant challenge too. Hot, cold, too much rain, not enough rain, it all impacts grape quality. So researchers focus on traits like cold tolerance and disease resistance to ensure growth in the industry.
Cadle-Davidson says, “These two shoots were from the same vine actually and it just shows the effect the disease has. They should be the same length if this one were healthy.”
But the diverse weather helps scientists find solutions before farmers lose their crops.
Gerling says, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere in terms of grape growing here so that’s one way of thinking of this as an ideal site.”
A fund of nearly 70 million dollars will bring more researchers and a new facility here on campus to provide more tools to the grape industry.
Gerling says, “This is an essential part of the next generation of wine grapes and the wine industry. It will give us more choices as we meet the challenges of agriculture in the 21st century.”
Lindsay Raychel asks, “How great is it to have that in NYS?”
Reisch says, “Oh, it’s fantastic.”
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