Volunteers Wanted For Belarus Cold Climate Grape Project
The CNFA Farmer to Farmer Program is looking for volunteers to go to Belarus to work on structured research with cold climate grapes.
Desired Qualifications of Volunteer:
• Proven expertise in cold hardy grape cultivars;
• Adequate experience in providing training/advice on grape growing
Until recently growing grapes was traditionally associated with the regions that have enough sunshine and mild winters. However, the emergence of cold hardy grape cultivars in the 1990s in the U.S. opened up the opportunities for the northern countries, once considered unsuitable for viticulture, to experiment with grape growing.
In Belarus the leader in the area of grape growing technologies development is the Plant Mineral Nutrition Laboratory (PMNL). It is a self-funded research division at the National Institute for Experimental Phytology. PMNL has a collection of cold hardy cultivars of table grapes and grapes for processing purposes. The list of cultivars include: Prairie Star, Frontenac gris, Adelmiina, Buffalo, St. Pepin and Marquette. PMNL is engaged in testing the above cultivars, development of the technologies to propagate them and adapt to the Belarusian climate conditions.
PMNL propagates grape cultivars in vitro and adapts the planting stock for in vivo conditions by providing them with the optimal mineral nutrition in the ion substrate. It then sells the planting stock to the local grape growers and monitors its development in vivo conditions. PMNL’s major achievement is that several cultivars have reached the sugar content indicated by their breeders as an industry standard.
Nowadays commercial grape growing becomes popular in Belarus, many businesses consider making grape juice, yougurt fillers and puree for baby food. One of the largest commercial enterprises – Pinsk Vineyards — requested PMNL to provide it with cold hardy planting stock. Last year PMNL supplied it with 20 pilot vines. It provides the staff of this enterprise with guidance and supervision to ensure that the plants are healthy and develop well. While PMNL staff achieved significant progress in managing grape growing, they are not confident that they can cope with all issues that arise. For example, the pilot vines have survived the winter season and looked healthy, but the spring frost seemed to damage them.
PMNL staff is aware that grape breeding research is extensively carried out in the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin and University of North Dakota, and that the U.S. researchers have achieved excellent results in breeding numerous cold hardy cultivars yielding 15-20% of sugar. For this reason PMNL seeks CNFA volunteer technical assistance in evaluating the potential suitability of various cold hardy grape cultivars for the Belarusian climate conditions and developing the guidelines to test the performance of selected cultivars.
In particular, PMNL needs advice and training in the following areas: 1) cold climate varieties of table grapes and grapes for processing purposes that could be cultivated in zone 5 where Belarus belongs (in accordance with the USDA classification of cold hardiness zones); 2) techniques to evaluate the cultivars suitable for the Belarusian climate; 3) techniques to prepare grape vines for the winter season; 4) accelerated propagation techniques.
The volunteer is expected to share with a wider audience the general information of the U.S. experience of growing grapes in cold climate, visit several vineyards, research institutions and farms, and participate in a roundtable discussion on northern grapes.
For More Information contact: afeuillet