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Journey to the center of a grapevine

Kearney Grape Day 2011, Aug. 16: Scientist to lead tour through the inside of a grapevine.

The broad maple-like leaves and bright green curly-cue tendrils of grapevines are a familiar sight during the University of California’s annual Kearney Grape Day. At this year’s event, Aug. 16, participants will also get a guided tour of the vines’ interior vascular system in a presentation about grapevine water transport physiology.

USDA plant biologist Andrew McElrone is using high resolution computed tomography – a type of cat scan similar to the medical imaging diagnostic system – to cruise through plant veins and vessels to better understand grapevines’ water transport system.

The research is conducted on live and dry grapevines at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Like in medicine, each cat scan produces numerous digital slices of grapevine, which are stacked on top of each other using special engineering software to reconstruct the system.

“We can then spin the images around into various orientations, moving through individual vessels,” McElrone said.

At Grape Day 2011, McElrone will show images and video clips of grapevines’ inside anatomy, explain what he is finding there and why it is important to the industry.

Grape Day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 9240 S. Riverbend Ave., Parlier, Calif. Field tours are conducted from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and classroom presentations will be from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

Registration is $10 per person. Advance registration is offered online.

Field tour topics are:

  • New wine grape varieties for the San Joaquin Valley by UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist James Wolpert, UC Davis
  • The development of new grape rootstocks for the San Joaquin Valley by geneticist Peter Cousins, USDA-ARS, Geneva, N.Y.
  • Using the ‘Paso Panel’ to aid in irrigation scheduling by viticulture farm advisor Mark Battany, UC Cooperative Extension, San Luis Obispo County

Classroom presentations:

  • Understanding water use of grapevines by plant biologist Andrew McElrone, USDA-ARS, Davis, Calif.
  • Trapping and baiting for gopher control in vineyards by vertebrate IPM advisor Roger Baldwin, Kearney, Parlier, Calif.
  • Critical weed free periods in vineyard development by vegetation management farm advisor Kurt Hembree, UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County
  • Fruitfulness of DOV raisin cultivars by UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist Matthew Fidelibus, UC Davis and Kearney.

For more information, contact event coordinator Matt Fidelibus,, (559) 646-6500.

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