With erratic temperatures and extreme weather events on the rise, researchers at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) are working to make vineyards across the region more resilient to climate change.
After experiencing an unusually mild October, southern Ontario was blasted with a mass of frigid air that caused a record-breaking cold snap in early November — putting grapevines at risk for early frost injury.
When the mercury plummeted, CCOVI researchers were already out in the vineyards collecting bud hardiness data for the VineAlert program. By also collecting data on grape bud survival rates after cold weather events, the Institute is able to give growers direction on how to manage any damage vines may have sustained.
“Thankfully, we had some data available and it didn’t get cold enough to damage the vines based on our preliminary bud survival data,” said Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s senior viticulturist, “but the extreme variances in temperature are especially problematic when the grapevines are early in their cold acclimation process.”
Now in its ninth year, the VineAlert program tracks a grape bud’s ability to survive cold temperatures over the dormant season, from October to April, across Ontario’s key grape producing regions.
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