Back in March, I found out I had been accepted as a Summer Scholar at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, working with Cornell grape breeder Bruce Reisch. My project’s goal is to investigate the inheritance of black rot disease resistance in grapes. Black rot is one of 3 major fungal diseases (Powdery and Downy Mildew also included) commonly combated by application of synthetic fungicides in conventional vineyards. However, black rot is much more challenging in organically-certified vineyards, as it is poorly controlled by the permissible fungicides (with sulfur and copper active ingredients).
Disease resistance is very important, both to decrease fungicide use in conventional vineyards, and to facilitate successful cultivation of organic vineyards. Personally, I avoid organic fruits, because I know most are sprayed excessively with copper, and are often more damaging to the environment than their conventionally-grown counterparts. This article is a good overview of the issue, for those interested. Decreasing pesticide use by utilizing disease resistant varieties makes grape growing safer, easier, cheaper, and more environmentally sustainable.
So, that’s a quick overview of the scope of my project. The rest of this blog presumably will document what I do on a weekly basis. If that interests you for whatever reason, anonymous internet reader, do read on.