Bill Shoemaker, superintendent and senior research specialist at the University of Illinois St. Charles Horticultural Research Center, is retiring after 30 years with the university.

Shoemaker’s research and outreach programs in fruit and vegetable production were based in northern Illinois for more than 20 years. He is the regional viticulture specialist for the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association and conducts work in grape breeding, evaluating cultivars for winter hardiness, and investigating integrated pest management and training systems for optimizing wine production.

“I intend to do more of the same, only in the private sector,” he told Good Fruit Grower. He’d like to do more work breeding grapes, both cold-hardy wine grapes and seedless table grapes adapted to the northern climate. The northern seedless table grape industry is virtually nonexistent. “Researchers have been distracted by wine grapes,” he said.

“Tapping the adaptive genetics of wild grapes,” he said, “could provide better disease resistance and some unique quality characteristics.”