Identifying and managing phylloxera, a common grape pest that is popping up in Washington, dominated the presentations and displays Thursday at the 2019 annual meeting of the Washington State Grape Society in Grandview. An estimated 255 people attended Day 1 of the two-day gathering, which continues Friday at the Grandview Nazarene Church.
Phylloxera is a North American native insect that feeds on vine roots and reduces productivity over time. It primarily attacks own-rooted vineyards, like many of the ones in Washington. Resistant rootstocks developed from wild grapevines keep it from becoming a problem.
“For those of you with phylloxera in your vineyard, your good ol’ days of self-rooted vines are probably over,” said Doug Walsh, a Washington State University entomologist. Walsh and WSU colleagues are seeking funding for a research project to better understand phylloxera’s biology and develop management techniques.
WSU extension specialists Michelle Moyer and Gwen Hoheisel shared a presentation on how to recognize phylloxera and its feeding damage.
Also at the annual meeting, Yakima Valley College agriculture department chair Trent Ball told growers in his yearly State of the Grapes presentation the 2019 Washington Concord grape harvest will weigh in at roughly 176,000 tons while the U.S. overall harvested roughly 404,000 tons. Cash prices have been rising the past three years and will likely continue to rise with diminishing inventories and acreage nationwide. The Washington cash price this year is roughly $170 per ton, while the East Coast cash price is $230.
Washington growers estimate their wine grape harvest at less than 200,000 tons, according to a post-harvest prediction by the Washington Winegrowers Association, Ball said. That would be down just slightly from the 2018 figure of 261,000 tons and down considerably from the group’s pre-harvest estimate of 260,000. California estimates 4 million tons, also down from last year.
Other topics included an update on Washington State Department of Agriculture’s tracking for the spotted lanternfly, mist-type evaporative cooling and marketing trends.
Dennis Pleasant was presented the Grape Society’s Walter Clore award for lifetime contributions to the industry, while Heath Cleveringa took the Lloyd H. Porter Grower of the Year honors.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct projected tonnage for Washington and California wine grapes.
—by Ross Courtney