- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Within 20 years, 42,000 acres of new vines could be needed to meet growing U.S. wine consumption, Western Farm Press reported Jim Lapsley, UC Davis professor emeritus of ag economics, said at the “Outlook and Issues for the World Wine Market” symposium sponsored by the UC Agricultural Issues Center in late June.
But recently, cheaper wine imports have been spurring growers to replace grapevines with more profitable crops, notes reporter Harry Cline. In the Central Valley, wine grape plantings declined from 190,000 acres in 2001 to 157,000 in 2008.
“Using UC crop budgets, wine grapes are netting only $80 per acre compared to almonds at $200, walnuts at $1,070, pistachios at $860 and pomegranates at $620,” writes Cline.
“The supply of inexpensive wines from other countries acts as a ceiling on prices for wine grape growers,” Lapsley is quoted saying regarding San Joaquin Valley wine grapes.
Based on population/demographic trends and the falling wine consumption in Italy, France, Spain and Argentina, Dan Sumner, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, expects world wine demand to decline despite projected consumption increases in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
“World wine markets may still expand as incomes grow gradually in traditional markets and wine consumption is introduced in places with rapid population and income growth,” Sumner is quoted as saying.
At a press conference in Fresno Wednesday, the Natural Resources Conservation Service announced a $1 million cost sharing program to help combat European grapevine moth in California.
The support will cover half the cost of voluntary, environmentally friendly control options, according to the NRCS press release. The pest control strategies, the release said, were developed and approved for use over the past five years by NRCS and the University of California Cooperative Extension. The cost of the treatment is about $208 per acre; NRCS will provide $104 per acre.
"Our intention is to complement the efforts of our partners at CDFA and USDA APHIS who have both the expertise and authority for overseeing infestations of EGVM," NRCS state conservationist Ed Burton is quoted in the release. "We will provide some very targeted Integrated Pest Management tools to farmers who are growing grapes in close vicinity to trapped moths."
Farmers must apply for the funding by June 23.
The Fresno press conference was covered by a number of media outlets, including:
- The Fresno Bee
- KMPH Channel 26 news (Fox affiliate)
- KFSN Channel 30 news (ABC affiliate)
- CBS Channel 47 news
The press conference came a day after USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced it released an additional $1.75 million in Farm Bill funding to stem the spread of European grapevine moth in California.
Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Carol Hafner held a news conference yesterday to outline efforts to combat European grapevine moth after three were detected last week in Fresno County. The ag commissioner's office has been monitoring thousands of traps in the county as part of a statewide program to detect the invasive pest.
On April 28, the officials confirmed that two European grapevine moths were found in separate traps about a half mile apart in vineyards southeast of the city of Fresno. On May 1, one moth was found in a trap in the Kingsburg area.
Grape production is the No. 1 ag industry in Fresno County, with an annual value of more than $700 million. The new threat to the industry posed by European grapevine moth was covered widely by local media, including:
Earlier this week, the Fresno Bee reported that USDA is providing California with an additional $1 million to help fight the spread of the European grapevine moth, now found in five California counties. The federal agency had already allocated $1.7 million to deal with the pest.
A group of UC scientists traveled to Chile recently to see firsthand vineyard damage caused by the European grapevine moth, according to an article in the Fresno Bee. The moth has been detected in California's Napa County, and is being actively tracked in the valley to determine whether the infestation has spread.
European grapevine moth was discovered three years ago in Chile. Because the pest develops from larvae to moth at a crucial time in the grape's growth cycle, its effects can be devastating.
"They have lost whole vineyards in Chile; not one grape was picked," UC entomologist Walt Bentley was quoted in the Bee. "It actually lays its eggs on the berry, and as the berries bloom little flower clusters, the larvae begins feeding on that. It is a voracious eater."
Napa County is world-renowned for its fine wines, but it may be the San Joaquin Valley that has the larger stake in the effort to keep the European grapevine moth at bay. Valley farmers produce nearly all of California's table and raisin grapes and, with 1.3 million tons of grapes for crush in 2009, lead the state's production of grapes for wine and concentrate.
A major European grapevine moth infestation could cost the industry millions of dollars in control efforts and lost sales to countries that block imports from areas with the pest, wrote Bee reporter Robert Rodriguez.
More information on the European grapevine moth is available on the UC Integrated Pest Management Web site.
Unusually warm late summer temperatures in Sonoma County have grapes ready for harvest a bit early this year, causing some angst for wineries used to a longer break between the harvest of white and red varieties, according to a story in today's Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
But UC Cooperative Extension viticulture farm advisor Rhonda Smith assured the paper that the 2008 vintage isn't suffering. Smith attributes the warmer harvest season to a lack of fog.
Cooling fog helps keep the acid and sugar levels in the ripening fruit in balance, allowing flavors to develop, she explained to reporter Kevin McCallum. Nevertheless, Smith said the heat hasn't damaged what looks like a beautiful, if small, crop, according to the article.
“The grapes look great,” she is quoted. “For all the heat we’ve had, the vines themselves do not look tired.”
Speaking of Rhonda Smith, the long-time UC advisor was honored by the 2008 Sonoma County Harvest Fair as a “Friend of Sonoma County Agriculture," according to an article in the Sonoma West Times and News.
“This was totally unexpected. I was honored. It came out of the blue. I was extremely shocked and pleasantly surprised,” Smith is quoted in the article.