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Extension Fruit Program Projects

Winegrape cultivar selection is among the most important components of vineyard and viticulture industry management. Prior to the turn of the 21st century, most U.S. states produced few to no winegrapes, primarily because of limitation in cold hardiness and disease resistance of the Vitis vinifera, the European winegrape species that comprises most commercial cultivars grown in the U.S. in traditional production regions. The introduction of new, interspecific hybrid cultivars has allowed for the development of grape industries in regions not previously considered possible. At the same time, continued evaluation of V. vinifera and hybrid cultivars and clones is critical to maintaining the winegrape industries in non-traditional regions. The major V. vinifera cultivars grown worldwide were selected over decades or even centuries for best suitability in European regions, and were then spread to California's and other arid western U.S. states. As new winegrape industries emerge, continued growth, and the economic impact that comes with it, is dependent on improving quality and quantity of grapes and wine produced. Continued discovery, development, and evaluation of winegrape cultivars and clones is critical for maintaining growth within this emerging agricultural sector.

Fire blight is a major threat to apple production in USA. It can destroy thousands of high density trees per farm in epidemic conditions. Our priority is to address this threat by development of pest risk assessment through quantifying survival of fire blight bacterium Erwinia amylovora in wood cankers as main sources for infection. 

Over 75 named and numbered peach/nectarine and plum varieties/selections are under casual evaluation and demonstration at the UMass Cold Spring Orchard. Most of them are varieties/selection from the Fruit Acres/Stellar, Paul Friday/Flaming Fury, and Rutgers/Adams County Nursery breeding and variety introduction programs. Data/observations collected includes flowering, yield, fruit quality (size, color, firmness, brix, maturity, and taste/consumer acceptance), and pest susceptibility. Results/variety recommendations are available to growers at meetings and personal consultation/visits to UMass Orchard.