Board, Not Bored

On July 19, in Geneva, NY, NGRA held our Mid-Year Board Meeting following the fantastic annual conference the American Society of Enology and Viticulture-Eastern Section and Nelson J. Shaulis Symposium on Digital Viticulture. Between the conference, symposium and meeting, it was a banner week for grape research! See a writeup of the symposium in Growing Produce, and read on for highlights from our very productive meeting.

NGRA gathers our Board of Directors three times a year to address organizational business and to ensure our research mission is well-served. As part of the administrative agenda for this mid-year meeting, board members discussed a new approach to development, designed to both grow the organization and inform our research program. Beginning next year, NGRA will seek to encourage state and regional organizations to create research committees and/or align with the research programs of states that already have them, ensuring their needs inform our research priorities. We also discussed revising our membership structure to enable prospective members to join NGRA without committing to board participation, and science-minded service providers and academic institutions to join as affiliate members. These changes (and others) are part of an update of our bylaws, under way now through the end of the year, intended to better reflect the ways NGRA operates today and provide for greater growth and member involvement, now and into the future.

Since research is at the heart of what we do, our meetings always include a robust research agenda. This time, along with many other reports, we received updates on exciting new projects initiated via our Research Committee process:

  • Dr. Matt Clark of the University of Minnesota shared an overview of the project he’s spearheading, championed by NGRA’s Genetics and Grapevine Improvement Research Theme Committee, called “Functional Genomics for Insect Pest Resistance,” focusing on vine mealybug and foliar phylloxera.
  • Dr. Tom Buckley of UC Davis presented the project, “Evaluating Plant Performance Models as a Tool to Guide Selection for Heat Tolerance in Grapevines,” which emerged from our Natural Resources & Environment Research Theme Committee.

The teams behind each of these projects held NGRA-funded planning meetings in May and June, and will be seeking grant funding this cycle. A third project, “High-Resolution Grape and Grapevine Nutrient Management Tools,” proposed by the Integrated Production Systems Research Theme Committee and led by WSU’s Dr. Markus Keller, will hold a planning meeting next month.

Board members also were blown away by a progress report on the NGRA-supported VitisGen2 project, delivered by co-PI Dr. Lance Cadle-Davidson (USDA-ARS, Geneva). And guest presenter Dr. Moira Sheehan shared an overview of the new Breeding Insight program. Scroll down to the Research Focus section for highlights from these speakers.

It was a high-powered meeting, owing not only to the content but to the quality of the participation and collaboration of the board directors around the table (literal and virtual), who represent wine, juice, table and raisin grapes and growing regions across the U.S. We accomplished a lot on July 19, and laid the groundwork for more progress to come!