Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Enrollment

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FALL   •   WINTER   •   SPRING   •   SUMMER          New Vineyard Timeline
Grape - Spring Content


Local Grower Assists in the Development of Technology for the Lake Erie Concord

Last Modified: July 27, 2017

One of the goals of the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is to ensure that the research they conduct is useful to grape growers. One way to ensure this happens is to incorporate grower participation into any research project from the very beginning. A good example of this is the current multi-year research project led by Dr. Terry Bates, Cornell University, and funded by the USDA/NIFA Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI). This project involves research on sensor technology and how it can be used to increase grower profitability and sustainability, as well as a Technology Outreach and Adoption component. It is in this area of the project where grower cooperators, like Thom Betts, have been key in helping to shape the project's research results into grower ready tools.

Thom Betts is a fifth generation grape grower in Westfield, New York. He and his parents currently operate 188 acres of Concord grapes. As grower/owners in the National Grape Cooperative, their harvest is delivered to Welch's where it becomes Concord juice, jam, jellies and other grape related products. He and his family have been involved with the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program since the late 1980's, approximately 30 years, and have been very involved in the Efficient Vineyard project, even before it was funded by USDA/NIFA. The Betts Family has been scanning their vineyards for 4 years now using the NDVI (normalized differential vegetative index) technology. For the first 3 years they used loaner units from the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program, but soon saw the value of the information from the scans, and have since purchased their own unit. This allows Thom to scan the entire 188 acres approximately 3 to 4 times per year in an effort develop baseline information on the best time of the growing season to collect data crucial for a number of parameters needed to implement variable rate management. Using this technology Thom has been able to estimate the yield for their entire vineyard operation with an error of only 5% or less for the past three years. Betts Farms has also been using a yield monitor on their harvester for the past three years. This is calibrated by the weigh slips from National Grape when the grapes are delivered to the processing facility. Thom hopes that the Efficient Vineyard project will eventually allow the average grower to share their acreage maps on a computer with extension agents, allowing them to develop vineyard blocks that are more uniform, easier to manage, and more profitable.
The more Thom learns about his vineyards from his involvement in this project, the more questions come up. He is often wondering what else can be done with the data? He sees variable rate thinning being done on the fly, and wonders what other uses can there be for variable rate mechanization. Prescription fertilizer applications and targeted rootworm sprays are two management practices that are in his sights for development of data and equipment for implementation.

Thom believes that a grower needs three seasons of NDVI maps before implementing variable rate technology. It is imperative to validate these maps, no matter what is being measured. According to Thom, "A map is only a pretty picture until you validate the data for the parameter you are looking at, be it color in table grapes, crop size, or soils in a vineyard block." The amount of information that is available can be overwhelming until you start breaking it into pieces, but working with the data will provide information that is necessary to maintain profitability in any vineyard operation.

Upcoming Events

2023 NYSDEC How to Get Certified Course

Event Offers DEC Credits

March 23, 2023
Portland, NY

This course is to prepare you for the pesticide applicator exam scheduled for March 30, 2023, to be held at CLEREL.

LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting #1

Event Offers DEC Credits

May 3, 2023
Fredonia, NY

Come join us for timely and pertinent vineyard discussion, coffee, donuts and camaraderie.

LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting #2

Event Offers DEC Credits

May 10, 2023
Lockport, NY

Come join us for timely and pertinent vineyard discussion, coffee, donuts and camaraderie.


Straight Talk: Is H-2A Working Out in the Vineyard

Check out the story below.  Our local grower Andy Knight is one of the 3 growers interviewed.

2023 LERGP Coffee Pot Schedule

2023 LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting Schedule

May 3, 2023 10:00am Double A Vineyards
10317 Christy Rd. Fredonia NY 14063

May 10, 2023 10:00am Niagara Landing Wine Cellars
4434 Van Dusen Rd. Lockport NY 14094

May 17, 2023 10:00am John Schultz & Sons
9510 Sidehill Rd. North East PA 16428

May 24, 2023 10:00am Brian Chess Farm
10289 West Main Rd. Ripley NY 14775

May 31, 2023 10:00am Sprague Farms
12435 Versailles Rd. Irving NY 14081

June 7, 2023 10:00am NO COFFEE POT MEETING

June 14, 2023 10:00am Betts' Farm
7365 East Route 20 Westfield, NY 14787

June 21, 2023 10:00am Paul Bencal Farm
2645 Albright Rd. Ransomville NY 14131

June 28, 2023 10:00am Gary Young Farm
8401 Gulf Rd. North East PA 16428

July 5, 2023 10:00am NO COFFEE POT MEETING

July 12, 2023 10:00am Zach & Alicia Schneider Farm
771 Bradley Rd. Silver Creek NY 14136

July 19, 2023 10:00am Schultze Winery
2090 Coomer Rd. Burt NY 14028

July 26, 2023 10:00am Westfield Ag & Turf
7521 Prospect Rd. Westfield NY 14787

Spotted Lanternfly Public Service Announcement

Please take a look at this PSA on YouTube.  It is narrated by our very own Jennifer Phillips Russo.
If you see a Spotted Lanternfly:
1-Take a photo
2-Collect it
3-Squish it
4-Report it

LERGP Podcasts- check them out!


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