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


Soil and Petiole Testing

Edith Byrne, Association Program Educator I
Lake Erie Regional Grape Program

March 13, 2013
Soil and Petiole Testing

Why is it important?Just as you would never medicate your children without knowing whether or not they actually have an infection,you need to be able to diagnose nutrient deficiencies in your vineyards. How to do it? Soil and petiole testing can provide a clear picture of what is going on in your vineyard. The soil tests will determine what nutrients are available to be taken up by the vines' roots, and the petiole tests will show whether or not the roots are actually absorbing those nutrients. Once you have the soil tests, you have one side of the story, and petiole tests will give you the other side of the vine nutrient story. A soil test can indicate that the soil pH, K, Mg, and N levels are all adequate, but if the vines are still puny, something else might be at work. This is where a petiole test comes in handy. Most likely, however, puny vines could be due to too much or too little water in the vineyard, and a large crop size will also affect overall vine size.
Regarding nitrogen application:In reference to growers traditionally applying 100+ lbs. actual N/acre, one grower recently commented, "At $600 and up per ton, there is no such thing as tradition." He's got a good point. Instead of applying 100lbs actual N to every nook and cranny of your vineyard, just because it's what you (or your dad or grandpa or great-grandpa) always have done, take the time to get a soil test to determine whether you really need that much N everywhere. Nitrogen availability depends on organic matter in the soil, and each percent organic matter in the soil account for about 20 lbs. actual nitrogen/acre. Hans Walter-Peterson at the Finger Lakes Grape Program developed a worksheet to calculate nitrogen needs based on soil tests results. I recommend you take the time to assess your individual blocks to determine nitrogen needs through soil and petiole testing. You may be surprised by what you may (or may not) need.

Directions for Collecting Petiole Samples

Watch the video

Selecting the Vines:

Select an area containing at least 30-50 vines of the variety to be sampled if possible. These 30 vines should be representative of: (a) a problem area, or (b) the average of the vineyard. The final fertilizer suggestions will apply ONLY to the area represented by the selected vines.

Select 30-50 Vines to represent the sample. If more than one area or block is being sampled, give each area a REFERENCE NUMBER and record this number for future reference. If you have the fields identified with either a number or a letter, this may be used for the reference number. When the diagnosis sheet is returned, it will refer to this field number/name.

Be sure to maintain thorough records of your sampling dates, techniques, and locations. Maintaining proper records will enable you to observe patterns over time and to treat specific areas in a timely and efficient manner.

Remember: Soil analysis in addition to petiole testing will provide the most accurate picture of what's going on in your vineyards. A soil or petiole test alone will not necessarily indicate whether a vine requires a specific nutrient or if the soil requires a change in the pH.

Collecting Petiole Samples:

Time Of Collection. Collect petiole samples at bloom or 70 - 100 days after bloom (late August or early September). Samples should not be taken after harvest.

Materials Needed: A 2 or 3 brown paper lunch bag. 

At BLOOM select a leaf opposite a cluster. At 70-100 days AFTER BLOOM, select the youngest mature leaf on a shoot bearing a cluster. Leaves should be well exposed to light and free from injury and disease. The petiole is the slender stem that attaches the leaf blade to the shoot.
Remove and discard the leaf blade and keep only the petiole. The 60-100 petioles constitute the sample. Place all 60-100 petioles in the paper bag and mark the identification number on the bag.
Collect no more than 2 leaves from each vine. Be sure to collect petioles throughout the vineyard to obtain a representative sample of the block.

Wash The Petioles before they wilt to remove spray residue and dust. This may be done by dipping the petioles in a weak detergent solution (a couple of drops of Tide, etc., in 2-3 cups water) and then rinse quickly and thoroughly with clean water. Do not allow the petioles to remain in the detergent or rinse water for more than one minute. Blot the petioles dry on a paper towel or clean dish towel then place them loosely in the bag. Allow the petioles to dry at room temperature until they become crisp, or for a faster drying time, place bags in oven at 200F for 30 minutes.

Basic Soil Sampling Instructions: WATCH SOIL TESTING VIDEO
Spade and trowel or soil probe
Plastic bucket
Sampling bags (in kit)
Sampling sheet (in kit)
Pencil or pen and permanent marker
Plastic re-sealable bag

*Sampling techniques may vary slightly, depending on where they are submitted, so be sure to follow the proper instructions. This set of methods is based on the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory's (CNAL) protocol.
  • Timing of soil sampling: Although soil sampling can be completed at any time of year, it is best to sample when soil is not too wet or to dry.
  • With a spade, dig a hole about 12 inches deep. Use the trowel to scrape along the side of the hole from about 0 to 8 inches below the surface into a container. Use this same technique for the subsurface sample (8 to 24 inches). Be sure to label separate samples.
  • A soil probe can be used to collect soil from 0-8 inch and 8-24 inch depths, and be sure to keep surface and sub-surface samples separate.
  • Place 1.5 cups dry soil into a labeled plastic bag and fill out forms completely for more accurate recommendations.
  • (For CNAL) Seal the form in the envelope provided and seal the plastic bag with the soil sample in the mail bag. Be sure to keep the mail bag attached to the envelope, which should be filled out properly.
Note: For more accurate results in vineyards that are not uniform, select the most uniform blocks from which to sample and combine 5 to 6 samples from within a block, mix them thoroughly, then submit 1.5 cups of that as one sample. For instance, a vineyard with sandy loam soil at one end and more clay at the other, submit two samples for the two blocks within that vineyard.

Additionally, to determine your soil type, you can obtain a soil survey map from your county extension office, or you can use the USDA's Web Soil Survey page ( to zone in on your land and determine soil type.

Upcoming Events

LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting #5

Event Offers DEC Credits

May 29, 2024 : LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting
Fredonia, NY

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

LERGP Coffee Pot Meeting #6- LERGREC Field Day

Event Offers DEC Credits

June 5, 2024 : LERGREC FIELD DAY
North East, PA

Come spend a day with us at the North East lab and earn pesticide recertification credits too!  FREE Lunch is provided, but please register so we can plan for food.

Precision and Digital Viticulture Field Day

June 6, 2024 : Precision and Digital Viticulture Field Day
Portland, NY

Come see what the digital equipment actually does in the field.  The presenters will explain the technology in the classroom in the morning and take you out after lunch to demonstrate it at work in the field.  We have a full day of guest speakers bringing in drone sensors, hyperspectral sensing technology, robotics and ai, pruning robots, Naio Ted robotic tool carrier, and others.  Take a look at the packed agenda.  You do not want to miss this meeting!!


Precision and Digital Viticulture Field Day

Thursday, June 6th, 2024 | 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory Regional Grape Program
6592 West Main Road
Portland, NY 14769


10:00 - 10:10 Welcome - Jennifer Phillips Russo & Dr. Terry Bates

Research Updates

10:10- 10:25 Drone Sensors - Dr. Rob Chancia, Rochester Institute of Technology - Rob is working together to address vineyard nutrition through better monitoring techniques and guidelines for grape production across the nation and all grape markets. He will discuss his research as a part of this collaborative project conducted at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory.

10:25 - 10:40 Hyperspectral Sensing Technology - Kathleen Kanaley, Dr, Katie Gold Lab, Cornell University - Kathleen will update on her research with using satellite and drone imagery to develop remote sensing tools for early disease detection.

10:40 - 11:00 Meet PPB & Research Update - Dr. Yu Jiang, Cornell University - Yu will discuss his research utilizing the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to tackle major challenges facing farmers and drive a revolution in agricultural productivity and sustainability.

11:00 - 11:20 Carnegie Mellon University Pruning Robots - Dr. Abhi Silwal, Carnegie Mellon University - Abhi will present the design and field evaluation of a rugged and fully autonomous robot for end-to-end pruning of dormant season grapevines.

11:20 - 11:40 Vision Spraying and Electric Weeding - Dr. Lynn Sosnoskie, Cornell Weed Scientist - Lynn will update us on her research for sustainable programs that investigate other tools and technologies for controlling unwanted vegetation exploring non-chemical strategies for weed suppression including covering crops and mulches and vision-guided and electric weeders.

11:40 - 12:00 Naio Ted Robotic Tool Carrier- Chuck Baresich, Owner of Haggerty Creek - Chuck will be talking about the Naio Ted Robot and the potential use of robots to help improve efficiency in vineyards. Ted is the only autonomous straddle robot for vineyards with Augmented Autonomy. Perfect for mechanical weeding on the row.

12:00 - 1:00 Lunch

1:00 - 3:45 Outdoor Demonstrations of Precision & Digital Tools

3:45 - 4:00 Closing Remarks - Jenn Phillips Russo, Lake Erie Regional Grape Program

This is a FREE event but you must register!

Soil Health & Climate Resiliency Field Day 6/12/24

Come join us for a full day of education on soil health.  We have special guest speakers, soil pits, demonstrations and lunch.  This program is being hosted by the Betts' Farm.  Sponsorship from the LERGP, USDA NRCS, Cornell CALS, New York Soil Health, King's Agriseeds and E & J Gallo Winery have made this program come together and provide lunch for the day.
See agenda here:

10:00am-10:20am- Welcome

10:20am-10:40am- Our Soil Health Journey- Bob Betts, Betts Farm

10:40am-11:05am- Soil Health in Perennial Fruit Systems- why it matters?- Debbie Aller, Cornell University

11:05am-11:35am- NYFVI Cover Cropping Trials- Jennifer Phillips Russo

11:35am-Noon- Cover Crop Options for Different Applications- Rod Porter, Kings Agri-Seeds

Noon- 12:45pm- LUNCH

12:45pm-2:15pm- Soil Pit and Soil Health Trailer and Demos- Dan Ufnar (USDS, NRCS), Debbie Aller & Michael Glos(Cornell University)

2:15- Closing Remarks

This is a FREE event but you must register to help us plan for enough food. Thank you!

Welcome Andrew Holden to the LERGP team!

In case you have not heard yet, we have filled the vacant position of Business Management Educator. We are pleased to welcome Andrew Holden to our team. Here is a brief introduction with a little background. Please stop in to say hello and introduce yourself. Bring questions- he is ready to get to know you and your farm operation!

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program welcomed Andrew Holden, LERGP's Business Management Specialist, to our team on March 1, 2024, filling the vacancy since May 2023. Andrew pursued his education at Ohio State University, earning a B.S. in Agribusiness and Applied Economics and later obtaining an M.S. in Agricultural and Extension Education. In his previous role he served as the Ashtabula County Agricultural Extension Educator with Ohio State University Extension for the past 5 years. Andrew is eager to bring his passion for agriculture, grapes, and wine along with his economic knowledge to this new position and to the growers in the Lake Erie Grape Region. He is looking forward to engaging with growers to help him understand their needs to ensure that his role equips them with the tools needed for success. His office is located at the Cornell AgriTech campus in Portland, NY (CLEREL).

Commercial Vehicle Awareness slide presentation

NYS Trooper, Matt Luft, presented on Commercial Vehicle Awareness at CLEREL on Thursday, August 2nd.  He has given us the permission to share his slides for you to reference at your convenience to share with others or to review. Please reference this link. 

LERGP Podcasts- check them out!


LERGPLake Erie Regional Grape Program - Cornell Cooperative Extension
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