BY Mark Chien, Penn State Cooperative Extension
Deborah Golino, Foundation Plant Services, UC Davis
A healthy vine is fundamental to the successful beginning and sustainability
of all grape vineyards. Growers depend on commercial grapevine nurseries
for vine stock that is pathogen- and virus-free with the desired
cultivar, clone, and rootstock. To achieve these conditions is not
an easy task, either for the nursery or the clean plant program
that provides importation and certification services.
Viticulture has become much more complicated in the past decade
with a tremendous variety of grape material that wine growers in
vastly different conditions can select. Interest in new varieties,
clones and rootstocks has increased and resulted in the importation
of many new materials from diverse international sources.
Some cold hardy Minnesota hybrids can survive temperatures below
30†F, allowing grapevines to be grown in previously forbidding
areas. The grape breeding program at Cornell University (New York)
has produced many commercially successful varieties including Chardonel
The wide variety and variability in plant material comes with great
promise for improved wine diversity and quality but not without
considerable risk for disease and virus problems and mis-identification.
For decades, Foundation Plant Services (FPS) at University of California,
Davis, (formerly known as the Foundation Plant Materials Service),
has been the major source of vine materials for grape vineyards
in the U.S. FPS Director Deborah Golino holds U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) grape importation permits that allow introduction
of new materials from outside the U.S.
Scientists in New York and Missouri possess importation permits
allowing them to introduce new clones and varieties for regional
variety and breeding trials. Recently, Washington state established
a foundation plant service at the Washington State University research
facility in Prosser.
Development of smaller regional facilities, including one planned
in the Mid-Atlantic region to serve vineyards in the eastern U.S.,
are a clear indicator of the increasing need for programs addressing
region-specific plant material needs. New funds and resources are
being sought to improve clean plant programs. As these programs
develop, it will be important to coordinate their activities for
maximum efficiency and quality.
The National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI) is cultivating
a national landscape for grape and grape product research and extension
services. After a series of meetings to set priorities, one of seven
program areas identified was Clean Plant Materials with the
following objectives and benefits:
OBJECTIVE: Provide growers with a broad range
of disease-free grape varieties, rootstocks, and clonal materials
which have been evaluated for suitability and quality attributes.
BENEFIT: Improves plant health and quality.
Prevents loss of vineyards, plants, and crops to disease. Improves
quality of final products by increasing selection of and information
about a wide variety of plant materials. Provides practical guidelines
for evaluation of vine-site suitability.
Nancy Irelan, the NGWI research committee chair, collaborated with
Golino to organize a September 2005 meeting in Davis, CA to address
this directive at the national level. It was an opportunity for
foundation plant service scientists interested in clean plant programs
to assess current resources and capabilities and to evaluate how
regional programs can improve their products and services through
Assessment and gap analysis of program resources and facilities
were provided by each FPS group. One example is an urgent need for
regional programs that can deliver cold-hardy and crown gall-free
vines for vineyards threatened by winter injury. Petri disease,
eutypa, bot canker, and other trunk-related maladies are increasingly
recognized as a problem for young and old vines in all viticulture
regions. Tomato ringspot virus is a serious problem in Vidal Blanc,
an important hybrid variety popular in cold climate vineyards.
Grape importation services are provided by FPS to
private industry and public researchers on a fee-for-service basis.
This is an extremely valuable entry point for grape varieties, clones,
and rootstocks from regions around the world. FPS provides many
other services to industry, including disease testing, biological
indexing, elimination of plant pathogens, professional identification
of grape varieties, foundation block maintenance and distribution,
outreach and education, and characterization and registry of grape
A tour of the foundation facilities showed the great complexities
in each area and the enormous record-keeping burden needed to preserve
a paper trail on all plant material entered, treated, and delivered.
Recent cooperation with other foundation services such as ENTAV
in France has led to a proliferation of high-quality grape materials
available to the wine industry in the U.S. Please visit http://fps.ucdavis.edu/Grape/GrapeProgram-Index.htm
for more information about the history and services of FPS.
In Washington state, the Northwest Grape Foundation Service was
created with cooperation from Oregon and Idaho, at the Washington
State University research station in Prosser. Initiated in the 1970s,
the program was revitalized in 2003 with significant federal and
state funding. It seeks to provide virus- and crown gall-free vines
to an industry that has grown to over 30,000 acres and is threatened
by winter injury.
In Prosser, disease testing is offered and a foundation vineyard
has been established, but there is no importation permit. Other
vine problems in Washington include viruses (leaf roll and fan leaf,
corky bark, rupestris stem-pitting, arabis mosaic virus, tomato
ringspot), Petri disease, crown gall, and eutypa. All of these are
common to most grape regions but vary in degree of severity. More
information about the NWGFS is available at: http://nwgfs.wsu.edu/.
The program at Southwest Missouri State University, (Mountain Grove,
MO), has a collection of Eastern European varieties and hybrids
currently being tested for viticulture and wine suitability, and
a disease testing and elimination program for nine viruses. Five
important regional varieties have been selected for virus-free certification
including Norton, Vignoles, Chardonel, Chambourcin, and Vidal. Dr.
Wenping Qui is the program leader and holds an APHIS importation
license. More information about the SWMSU foundation program is
available at: http://mtngrv.missouristate.edu/GrapeImport.htm.
A foundation program has been proposed and funding sought to serve
the Mid-Atlantic and eastern regions. A collaboration between Penn
State, University of Maryland, Virginia Tech and their states
departments of agriculture seeks to address two major problems in
new vineyards, crown gall and tomato ringspot virus. Penn State
has invested heavily in recent years to determine the extent and
cause of vine decline problems in young and mature vineyards. Smart
cycling PCR technology has been refined for use in pathogen detection
and can help to ease and quicken the analysis process.
Cornell University (New York state) has managed a voluntary vine
certification program in the past, but it has been dormant until
the arrival of grape virologist Dr. Marc Fuchs, formerly director
of research at INRA-Colmar in France. Dr. Fuchs specializes in grape
viruses, and is now the plant virologist at the New York State Agricultural
Research Station (Geneva, NY).
Program goals for Dr. Fuchs are to develop virus control measures
through improved detection methods and genomics research. Cornell
University is currently evaluating its foundation grape service
program and how it may be further developed.
These working and planned foundation programs are part of the National
Clean Plant Network (NCPN). While not yet formalized as an organization,
there is strong agreement among the principals in each group that
a national network would benefit each region and program and the
grape and grape products industry as a whole. The current program
includes tree fruits, so the term plants, not vines,
Goals of this group would be to join forces and, as a team, address
diverse and specific grape material needs of all grape regions in
the U.S. by creating the most efficient and effective network of
foundation plant services possible. By forming a closed loop network,
the group can avoid duplication, share resources, backup materials
and data, improve services, increase efficiency and throughput and
be more responsive to regional and national industry needs.
Education and outreach services are important to the success of
each foundation program. Growers and commercial nursery cooperators
must understand the problems caused by plant viruses and pathogens
and the importance of clean and healthy vine materials, and how
to properly and effectively utilize plant materials from foundation
services. Users must realize that certified materials are not a
guarantee against developing plant problems but rather an additional
assurance that a healthy plant will be established.
Industry experience is essential in determining which selections
are needed in clean plant programs, what new cultivars and clones
should be imported from abroad, and priorities for therapy of cultivars
that are in the U.S. but are not available as clean stock by importing
promising cultivars and clones, for example.
Perhaps most important, these foundation programs will seek stable
funding through a variety of public and private resources. Currently,
FPS relies on grants and fees-for-service for operating expenses.
The Washington program has received federal and state grants, but
these are limited in duration and will eventually be supplemented
by service fees. Once the network is up and running, it will be
presented to USDA as a vital resource for an important agricultural
industry and should receive stable annual funding from the federal
Additional goals of NCPN include the creation of a national registry
of grape plant materials, creating a national set of standards for
testing grape materials, a review of the current APHIS rules that
regulate importation and testing, the development of a selection
system in cooperation with the grape and wine industries, improvement
of outreach and education services, improved plant identification
methods, and evaluation of how grape genomics can improve the quality
and types of grape materials available to the winegrape industry.
The group will also seek to evaluate and understand the economic
impact of the vine materials to the industry and economies of grape
growing regions. An educational program is needed to inform industry
members and stakeholders and partners of the essential value of
clean vine materials, importation capabilities, and other benefits
provide by the NCPN.
Next steps include further evaluation of resources, products and
services, creating a clear link to industry to understand their
plant material needs, developing an understanding of the economic
impact of foundation plant services programs and of vine problems
experienced by growers.
There is nothing more fundamental to a successful and high quality
wine or grape product than starting with a clean and healthy vine.
Every grape grower in the U.S. has a stake in the success of these