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Variable Rate Mechanical Shoot Thinning to Balance Yield and Fruit Quality in New York Concord Vineyards

Grant Program: OAR
Agricultural Sector: Fruit
Region: Statewide
Project Duration: 5/1/2015 - 4/30/2017
Amount Awarded: $43,968.00
Lead Organization: Cornell University
Project Leader: Terry Bates
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Proposal Abstract

Concord is the largest grape variety in New York State with respect to acres planted and total farm gate value. With the rising cost of labor, fuel, and fertilizer and the stagnant price paid for Concord grapes, production efficiency has become a high priority for Concord producers to remain competitive. Recent Concord mechanization research on pruning, shoot thinning, and fruit thinning has developed on-farm tools to reduce labor costs while maintaining or increasing grape yield and fruit quality. Mechanized techniques, however, are currently applied uniformly to vineyards with non-uniform soil, canopy, and crop characteristics leading to sub-optimum vineyard performance. Ongoing research in vineyard sensor technology uses commercially available mobile sensors to spatially identify and map vineyard variation. We propose to develop, test, and deliver a method for precision crop load management by integrating mechanical shoot thinning with spatial data collection in commercial Concord vineyards. We believe variable rate crop load management can lead to a 25-35% decrease in vine growth variation (increase uniformity) and a 20-25% increase in vineyard grape yield (increase profitability). This project will deliver two on-farm functioning mechanical shoot thinning units capable of translating spatial management maps into differential on-the-go shoot thinning and a detailed protocol on how to calibrate and use the equipment. See our video:

Final Report Summary Statement

Please see attached Final Report

Project Impact Data

Producers Participating: 4

Producers Advising: 4

Research/Extension Employed: 2

Presentations: 5

Total Producers Engaged: 150

Leveraged Funds: $6,000,000.00

Documents and Photos

TerryBates_Concord NDVI.jpg
Early season Concord NDVI used to generate shoot thinning management zones.
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