Grant funds study of Idaho grapevine viruses, quality
By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
A project to study a newly detected grapevine virus and other grapevine viruses has been awarded nearly $94,000 through USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant funding, allocated by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
The money has been awarded to USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to study Idaho vineyards to see if the virus is present. A fruit quality analysis will also accompany virus detection, since not all grapevine viruses affect grape quality.
The project will target newly emerging grapevine red leaf blotch virus that was first detected in New York and California in October 2012, said Jungmin Lee, a research food technologist with USDA-ARS working at the University of Idaho Parma Research and Extension Center.
The disease has already been reported in Washington, Oregon and California, but it is not yet known if it exists in Idaho, she said.
Lee is collaborating with University of Idaho plant virologist Alexander Karasev, and virologists in Oregon and Washington, to survey commercial vineyards, whose owners want to participate and will grant the team access, she said.
Most of the grant will be used to fund a graduate student to help with the project, she said.
The most important symptom of the disease appears to be that grapes don't ripen (reduced sugar levels). It is not known how the virus spreads or if it impacts other grape quality components, she said.
Detection of the disease is so new that real or potential economic losses have not yet been determined, she said.
The project will also provide Idaho's first baseline survey of its grape phytochemicals, compounds that are potentially good for human health.
Visual diagnosis based on leaf symptoms can be challenging.
Additional information can be found by downloading the following brochure provided by USDA-ARS: