Expert Advisory: Brock scientists help protect vineyards during frigid temperatures

31 January 2019


With extreme cold weather alerts across most of the province, scientists at Brock University
are helping grape growers avoid crop loss.

As the mercury plummeted, researchers and students were already out in the vineyards
collecting grapevine buds for the VineAlert program run by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and
Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), in partnership with the Grape Growers of Ontario.

Back in the lab, scientists have been analyzing the data to track a grape bud’s ability to
survive these cold temperatures. This helps growers and wineries know when they should turn
on wind machines to protect vines from winter injury and how to manage any damage they
may have sustained.

“We are closely monitoring this extreme weather across Ontario and sampling in vineyards to
determine what impact it will have on bud survival,” said Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s Senior
Viticulturist. “We are then able to provide that timely information to the industry to help
mitigate any impact through pruning practices and adjustments in the vineyard to reduce
economic loss.”

Although the cold snap is set to end this weekend, the work has just begun in the cold
hardiness lab. Scientists should know within the next few weeks what sort of impact this deepfreeze
has had on crops.

Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Viticulturist, is available for interviews.

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