Same Old Same Old

This week sort of followed the usual routine that we’ve gotten into. Monday was spent out at Redlands where we took SWP’s, Paso Panel and Shadeboard measurements as well as Berry Sampling. After this week though we won’t be doing nearly as much out at Redlands. On Tuesday we ran the full juice panel (Weight, subsample for Phenolics, Brix, pH, and TA) for Redlands, we also went out to Grestoni to take some SWP’s for samples that are positive and negative for Red Blotch. 

On Wednesday we went out to Belle Fiore and took some berry samples and SWP’s. We also ran the full juice panel on those berries as well as took a sample of juice to run enzymatics on later.

Grapes at Belle Fiore

On Thursday we went back out to Grestoni to collect some berry and cluster samples for… you guessed it! A juice panel!

Lastly on Friday me and Cody went out and took more leaf samples at the Lombard block to get a veraison time point for the nutritional analysis so that we can compare the results I took earlier in the summer. We sent those off and I should hopefully have the results back in a couple weeks! Overall nothing out of the ordinary happened this week, although I am looking forward to next week because we’re going out to Belle Fiore as usual, but this time we’re going to be having a little photoshoot so that we can have photos to use for whatever. I’ll try to include some that we take, until next time!

Another example of grapes at Belle Fiore

On That Grind

It has certainly been a busy week, let me tell you. As usual we started off Monday heading out to the Redlands site, but this time along with SWP we got to do some berry sampling! For berry sampling depending on the site we usually pick 50-60 berries for a representative of that specific treatment. We then use those berries for a multitude of various results that all provide us with different information. The first thing we do with each bag of berries is collect the weight. The second step is from each set of berries we sub-sample 20 to be used for phenolics later. After that we crush the remaining berries with our hands to get all of the juice out, which we then pour into a 15 mL centrifuge tube. We then put all of those centrifuge tubes into a centrifuge to spin down any solid particulates in the juice. After that we pour the juice into a 50 mL centrifuge tube, and discard the old tubes with the solid matter. After that we begin collecting results.

With this juice we test for many different things. One thing we look at is pH, which is done using  pH probe. We also test for brix using a refractometer. Brix are used as an indicator for veraison and when to harvest. With the juice we also take 1 mL of each sample and set it aside for enzymatic analysis. Lastly using a ratio of 5 mL of the juice to 20 mL of DI water we run all the samples through an acid titration.  It’s a long process and it takes up almost the whole day but it’s actually kind of fun.

Grapes at Belle Fiore

On Tuesday we went out to Grestoni to collect some leaf samples but this time we did things a little differently. We started off by picking a leaf from a preselected fine, somewhere around mid-canopy. We then used a SPAD meter, which gives us a relative SPAD value which is proportional to the amount of chlorophyll in the leaf. We then used the same leaf to take a photosynthesis reading using a Licor Photosynthesis and Gas Exchange Analyzer. After that we bag the leaf for SWP. After SWP we take the leaf back to the lab where we cut out 1 square centimeter for chlorophyll extraction, we weigh the rest and put it in the incubator for NSC. 

On Wednesday we went to Belle Fiore to collect some berry samples, as well as leaf samples for NSC (Non-Structural Carbohydrates, which I talked about in an earlier blog) and leaf samples for nutritional analysis which we sent off to OSU.

Bags for Berry and Leaf Sampling at Belle Fiore

On Thursday we went back to Grestoni to collect Berry and cluster samples. Cluster samples meaning we take the entire cluster off the vine for analysis. Lastly on Friday we spent the whole day in the lab, partly because it was raining and thundering outside and partly because we needed to run some of the samples through NSC. So as you can now tell it was a very busy week indeed.

Halfway Done?

Somehow this summer has gone by amazingly fast. I’ve reached the halfway point in my internship, which also means I’m halfway done with these blogs! It’s crazy how fast its all gone but you know what people say “Time flies when you’re having fun”.

These past couple of days have honestly been a little crazy and I’ve got to learn so much more in such a short time. Just this last week the Research and Extension Center, in collaboration with the Rogue Valley Winegrowers Association, hosted its annual Southern Oregon Wine Grape Field Day. We got to go to various vineyards throughout Southern Oregon and learn about how they run their vineyards and why they do what they do. Our first stop was Troon Vineyard, which is an organic and biodynamic farm/vineyard. Biodynamic farming is sort of a relatively new concept, in which the farm or vineyard is viewed as a single entity. The requirements for biodynamic farming are actually quite interesting. Some requirements include, using natural materials, soils, and compost to sustain the vineyard, having other plants and animals onsite such as ducks, horses, or sheep live on the soil and fertilize it. Other requirements include the forbidden use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The purpose of biodynamic farming is to create a more natural, self-sustaining farm that can continue on for many generations. The second vineyard we visited was Hummingbird estate which is a relatively new vineyard, so we discussed new plantings, as well as cultivar and rootstock selection.

View at Hummingbird Estate

Our last stop of the day was here at the Research and Extension center where we visited all of our research vineyards here on site. After lunch, we had an amazing talk from Glenn McGourty about “Evaluation of Vineyards, Fruit and Wine Affected by Wild Fire Smoke”. 

The rest of the week consisted of PCR and DNA extractions, but most importantly Nutritional Analysis results! After sampling and sending off results a couple weeks ago I have received ⅔ of the lab results, so a big portion of my week was figuring out a way to present the data. After a lot of research and R Studio stuff I came up with these plots as a first draft at presenting the data.

I’m still working on them and trying to figure out if there might be a better way to present the data while also waiting on the results from OSU. I will also be sampling again here in a couple weeks and sending off those samples. Overall things have been picking up and with berry and cluster sampling coming up, there’s gonna be a lot more things to do… hopefully.

DNA and Vines Galore

This week was a little all over the spectrum of what I got to do. On Monday we did the normal Redlands visit, Stem Water Potential, Shadeboard and Paso Panel measurements (I lied last week when I said we didn’t have to do that anymore, we just have to do them once a week!). Tuesday was a little more exciting, we put drip line into the new demo block here at the research center, which we then got to plant later in the week. The demo block is to be used, as well a demo for farmers and home growers in the area, to kind of showcase different varieties of grapes, different trellis styles, and eventually show the growth variances of 4 year old vines compared to 3, 2, and 1 year old vines. For right now the demo vineyard consists of multiple varieties of wine grapes, table grapes and raisin grapes. 

On Wednesday we also had to finish putting up the drip line in the new “to be named” research block also here at the extension center. This new research block is going to be planted Monday and will consist of 2 grape varieties (Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon) grafted onto 10 different rootstocks, with 20 vines per treatment with 5 reps, plus the addition of border rows for a total of roughly 2,400 vines. On Friday to prepare for the planting, I had the pleasure of organizing all of the vines into buckets so that we can set the bucket at the beginning of the row and just plant, and not have to worry about messing up the order of the vine/treatment placement. 

Vines being sorted into buckets, to be planted in new research block on Monday.

Throughout the week I got to work on some DNA extractions which was pretty cool, and there’s still a lot more to do. I also got to shadow Joey and watch him do some PCR, which happens after DNA extraction. Overall, this week definitely had a lot of variety to the tasks and projects we are working on which was kind of nice.

A rollercoaster whirlwind of a week

I think a major thing I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks is that working in a lab can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster. There’s really slows day where nothing but reading articles happens and then there’s days where its just go-go-go and it’s non-stop work. I prefer the busy days more because then I have something to do and it’s also a lot more exciting. Monday started off pretty normal. Went to Redlands with Joey, Ricky and Reese, took some Stem Water Potentials, Paso Panel and Shadeboard measurements which I’ve talked about before.

Mortar and Pestle used for grinding samples.

On Tuesday I got to learn something new by helping out Cody with some Non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) quantification. Which is quite a long process but essentially after grinding up the samples (I got to use a mortar and pestle, which sort of made me feel like an ancient medicine man), and mixing them with supernatant and diluting it, incubating it, etc. In the end we use the absorbance of the leaf samples to quantify how much starch and sugars are in a sample. We’re hoping to use this information to just get another perspective into what the different treatments in our experiment are doing and what their effect on the plant is.

On Wednesday and Thursday I got to do my own little side project on the Lombard Vineyard Block here on site. Essentially we are doing a little test with the different analytical labs in the area that do Plant Nutrient Analysis Testing. Looking at the cost of the test, what kind of results they give us, how long it takes to get the results, and a few other things. On Wednesday I was mostly just squaring everything away for the project, calling the labs to double check prices and asking how much sample matter they need, etc. On Thursday I got to go out and sample the Lombard block all by myself. There are two different varieties of grapes (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) in the lombard block so I sampled both of them, I ended up collecting 216 leaf blades and petioles of each variety and then split those between the three labs we were sending them to (OSU Central Analytical Laboratory, A & L Labs, and Dellavalle Labs) so that each lab received four samples consisting of, Pinot Noir petioles, Pinot Noir leaves, Chardonnay petioles, and Chardonnay leaves. Before sending them off I had to separate the leaf blades and petioles which took a while. Then in the afternoon, with the help of Joey, I sent all the samples off to the various labs! Which actually took a lot longer than you might think, honestly the mailing process wasn’t that difficult it just took forever.

On Friday I went back out to Redlands with Joey and Ricky to take some more Stem Water Potentials and at least for a little while our last Shadeboard and Paso Panel measurements. I must say, I don’t know if it was the fact that it was Friday and the week was almost over, or because we had one less person than normal but going out to Redlands on Friday was HOT. Overall the most difficult, but also my favorite part of the week was getting to conduct my own little experiment. I probably won’t get the results for awhile so we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of it but I’ll make sure to update in future logs!

The Adventure Goes On

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

 

 

 

On Monday we (Pretty much the whole team, Cody, Reese, Ricky, Joey and I) went out to the Redlands site in Grants Pass, which is like a two hour round trip, so lots of time in the car. Although it was worth it because we had a lot to do and I got to learn a lot of new things! When we first got there we all had to sort of chip in on getting the shoots all tidied up. Essentially we just went through the rows and picked up all the shoots that were hanging down and tucked them back into the trellis system. So how the rows work in a Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) Trellis System is that there’s and end post on either side that is tied down by some means (There’s many ways to do this) and then there’s smaller post every how many feet apart (To be determined by row length and how many vines you have). Then sort of in between the posts there are wires that run along the row.

Diagram found on https://winemakermag.com/article/1388-backyard-vineyard-trellis-and-training

The bottom wire is called the cordon or fruiting wire, as the name suggests, this is where the majority of the fruit will be found, while some may be found a little above the fruiting wire, in this trellis system all the fruit can be found on the bottom portion of the vine. Above this wire there are a series of catch wires. The catch wires are two wires sort of in the same spot but on either side of the posts, these are here so that you can tuck the long shoots up into them, hence the name Vertical Shoot Position.

So when we got there a lot of the shoots hadn’t been tucked into the catch wires so each of us picked a row and tucked them all in. I took some before and after pictures to show the difference.

Before picture of rows at Redlands site.

After picture of rows at Redlands site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also while we were out at Redlands we took some stem water potentials and we used two different methods to measure the canopy. Both of these measurements have to be taken right around Solar Noon, when the sun is at its peak, which often doesn’t fall around 12 o’clock due to day length changes and daylight savings time. One way was we used what’s called a Paso Panel, which essentially a frame with a solar panel on it that is connected to a small digital multimeter, which gives us a reading of how many amps of electrical current are being

Image found on http://cesanluisobispo.ucanr.edu/Viticulture/Paso_Panel/

produced by the solar panel which in turn tells us how much direct sunlight is hitting the panel. To take these measurements you place the Paso Panel underneath the shoots of the vine, make sure the panel is balanced and centered, and then press the button to take the reading. When taking readings we took a measurement on either side of the vine because vines aren’t really uniform in shape.

The other way we took canopy measurements was by using a special software. The way we do this is we place a white board on the ground underneath one side of the vine, make sure it’s centered and then take a picture of the board with the shadow of the vine cast onto it, then we take a picture on the other side of the vine. Then when we get back to the lab we convert the picture to binary, every image is made up of pixels and those pixels are made up of binary numbers.

View at Redlands Site.

The picture needs to be converted so that the computer can read the image. Then we select only the white board in the image, so that it’s not trying to read the whole thing. Then we use the computer to analyze the percent of the area shaded and then we convert that to canopy area (cm²/vine).

 

Overall Monday was by far the busiest day this week.

Example of the bags we use for stem water potential.

On Tuesday I did some research into some different analytical labs that I’m doing a side project for, more to come on that later. We also headed out to Grestoni on Tuesday afternoon to take some more stem water potentials. I talked about this briefly in my previous blog but I was able to take a picture of what the bags that the leaves go into look like. When we first get to the site we have to select the leaves from the data rows that we want to sample, then we put these bags on them and have to wait about 30 minutes before we can actually do the stem water potential testing.

On Wednesday morning it was kind of a slow day in the lab. I went out to the site where the new vineyard here at SOREC (Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center)  will be planted and just doubled checked to make sure all the rows and reps were labeled right so that when it comes to planting we don’t have any mishaps. In the afternoon we went out to the Belle Fiore site to label the rows, take some more stem water potentials and to take some leaf samples.

That’s all for this week, I hope everyone has a great Fourth of July and enjoys the nice weather! At least it’s nice here anyway!

The Start of a New Adventure: Expect the Unexpected

Let’s get real for a second. The first day at a new job or internship is always the weirdest. You have no clue where to go when you get there, you don’t know where anything is, everyone introduces themselves and you forget their name like 5 seconds later. It’s all a little overwhelming but I feel like no matter how old you are or how much experience you have it’s always that way. My first day at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center was no exception. In fact my entire first week was honestly a little crazy, but in a good way.

My first day started out pretty normal, reading some articles, figuring out how the lab sort of works but then I got to out and do some field work! On my first day! I was a little nervous because I’d never done anything like that before and I had no idea what to expect. We ( Joey, Cody and I) ended up going to one of the vineyards that we have an experiment going on at (in partnership with the Pathology lab at SOREC), it’s right down the road and it’s called Grestoni. We were just there to look at Stem Water Potential, which is an indicator of how stressed a plant is. With the results we can sort of decide whether the plant needs more or less water, and thus influences how long we irrigate for.

View of Ashland at Belle Fiore site.

On my second day Cody and I went out to another one of the vineyards called Belle Fiore in Ashland, where we sort of have two simultaneous experiments going on at the same time.

As part of one experiment we are looking at the effects of thinning on grapevines, along with irrigation and rootstock variances (thinning is when you remove clusters at berry set). For this experiment three vines were selected in each row to be thinned, along with the selected vine we thinned the vine on either side so that it doesn’t affect the selected vine. When thinning we removed all the clusters of berries except the basal cluster on each shoot. All of this talk about shoots and clusters and which one is the basal one was a little confusing at first, and since I like to visualize things I took some pictures that should make it easier to understand.

Vines in a row at Grestoni

Vine anatomy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf anatomy

Also at Belle Fiore for both experiments we took some leaf samples which we sent off to get a nutrient assessment. For those samples we collected four basal leaves from three or six preselected vines (depending on the experiment). When we got back to the lab we separated the petioles from the leaf blades before sending them to get analyzed. 

On Thursday and Friday we had to do some more sampling at Grestoni, this time so that we can perform DNA extractions. For this sampling we took four leaves (two basal leaves from each side of the vine) from every tenth vine.

 

Vineyard rows at Grestoni site.

Cody had a great analogy for what it feels like to be sampling in these giant vineyards. It’s like in the fourth Harry Potter Movie (the Goblet of Fire) when they are at the maze and they all start out together but then one by one they all enter the maze, and when you enter it’s just so quiet and lonely. That perfectly describes sampling at a vineyard.

Lab bench at Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center.

After we got the samples we went back to the lab to help start the next process. For this we took the leaves from each sample, separated the petioles and leaf blades, and chopped the petioles up into tiny little slices (this sort of made me feel like I was a giant cutting up little pieces of celery).  Then we measured out 1 mg of petiole slices in a tiny tube with a small metal ball, this is so the petiole can be ground up so that we can perform DNA extractions.

Overall it was an exciting first week. I learned a lot and I got to see some amazing new places. I’ve also realized that this summer is gonna be a lot more crazy than I originally thought.