Cold Damage and Injury

In the immortal words of Jim Morrison, This is the End (of the Glog).  It has been a fun, educational tool for me to communicate with growers and I hope that you found it useful.  This is the last entry, but it will remain up for reading — at least for awhile.  I will start a new blog sometime after I start at Mississippi State University and it will be on  Some other capstone items I wish to say:

1. Please continue to support OSU’s viticulture and enology efforts.  Just because I am leaving does not mean the program just goes away.  And if you would like to see my position refilled (that is not guaranteed!), I suggest developing a strategic plan to make this happen.  Contact the appropriate people (department heads, deans, provost, president, legislators, anyone with influence — and money), find a way to provide some funding to support research and extension efforts and do it on an annual basis, and come up with a plan of attack that may include having discussing with folks in the pecan industry.  It is unlikely that the position will be refilled solely as a grape position, but as a joint position with pecans is possible.  A plan of action may look like this: rally support for filling the position within the industry by drafting a position paper on why it needs to be filled as soon as possible, develop a plan for funding assistance to do the work you need done through research and extension, develop strong relationships with the OSU horticulture dept head and OSU division of agriculture dean.  If they don’t know you exist, then they won’t care.  How many times since 2005 (when I started) has anyone in the industry interacted with the dean?  I don’t know the answer to that, but if it is 0 or a very few times then that does not bode well.  A plan of action must include items like “why the position is important to the industry”, “what does the industry bring to the table in order for the university to invest in the position”, “how is the industry growing and what are future projections such that a continuing presence is needed?”.  Think about resources that might be available for an extension specialist to use (in-kind services, etc.).  In essence Why does the grape and wine industry of Oklahoma need this position to be filled and what is the Oklahoma grape and wine industry prepared to do about it?

2. Contribute your voice to an industry organization and keep abreast of what is happening in the industry now.

3. Don’t forget to read my last issue of Le Vigneron (to be published sometime early October).  It will include some photos of our vineyard, data and interpretation of the Perkins vineyard since 2002, and some other goodies.  At this point I don’t know if it will be the last one or not, but it will be a “blow-out” issue.  If you are not on the mailing list you can always find it online here (

4. Growers and wineries need to stick together and display a unified front to legislators.  Find a way past the differences and work together.  To be honest, other states have really gotten their acts together and formed cohesive state organizations that get a lot done.  It might be a good idea to talk with leaders from other states that are on a similar scale to Oklahoma  (like Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, etc. to find out what they are doing that is successful).

5. Be leery, but not dismissive, of vinifera grapes.  Well, maybe dismissive in many parts of northern Oklahoma.  Vinifera grapes can grow in Oklahoma, but we are concerned not only with growth.  We are also concerned with productivity, survival, disease resistance, and fruit quality.  Through my six years here I have come to these conclusions: Vinifera grapes are high-risk and should not be a first choice north of I-40.  South of I-40 on excellent sites they can be considered but not all varieties work.  Always use a rootstock, preferably a low vigor rootstock like 101-14.  Economics must be a prominent thought in variety choice.  What price per ton can be obtained?  How much does it cost to maintain per acre per year?

6. Open your mind to hybrid grapes.  There are many good varieties out there.  The only way to learn about them is to taste the wine and view the vine growth.  There are opportunities to do this within Oklahoma as well as in surrounding states.

7. If you have not done so already, please complete this survey:

8. Attend conferences such as ASEV, Unified Symposium, Midwest Grape and Wine Conference, etc.  The national perspective you get from these types of venues are invaluable.

9. Stay positive.  Oklahoma is a difficult place to grow grapes, but it can be done (with proper variety selection, site selection, management, and education).  Setbacks will happen, but Oklahoma has a terroir different from anywhere else, so it is exciting to be able to taste that through the grapes.  Taste Native Oklahoma is something to strive for.  Will it be possible to have an industry built entirely on Oklahoma grapes?  I don’t know, but at this point it is unlikely and impossible.  However, with a positive attitude anything is possible.

10. Not sure what else to say, but I wanted to have 10 items here.  So, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. once said, “Be excellent to each other.”


This year, as you well know, has not been kind weather-wise — not to grapevines or humans.  Dr. Damon Smith has a vineyard at the Cimarron Valley Research Station at Perkins where he conducts research on Black Rot.  The vines are now in their 3rd leaf — at least those that survived the winter.  We took some photos of the state of the vines to show what kind of things we are dealing with this year.

Vines dies during the summer after setting a crop

Vines dies during the summer after setting a crop.


Cordon splitting due to cold damage and desiccation.

Cordon splitting due to cold damage and desiccation.


Crown gall.

Crown gall.


Dead vines.

Dead vines.


In the vineyard most of the severe damage was done to the vinifera grapes — Petit Manseng, Gruner Veltliner, and Lemberger.  So much so that they will be taken out this winter and replaced with other varieties.  The hybrids performed better, but some with a high amount of vinifera had a few vines die.  No variety was entirely spared of some kind of injury, but the cold hardy Frontenac gris did well for the most part as did Cynthiana and Rubaiyat.

Yes, the end is coming soon for this blog.  When is the last day?  I’m not entirely sure, but probably somewhere around September 22.  The reason?  Well, for one thing I am leaving on the 23rd to give a talk at a conference in Hawaii.  Secondly, if you have not heard by now, I am leaving OSU on October 14.  I have been offered, and accepted, another position similar to this one at Mississippi State University.  I start there on November 1.  I will still be in the grape world — I will continue to be the Project Leader of and I will start a new blog that can be read from that website.  It will no longer be Oklahoma specific, but I will touch on grape growing in the Deep South as well as other broader topics of interest.  There are many loose ends concerning how things will continue here at OSU, but meetings will be held to discuss those things and we hope to have a plan in place before my departure.  I have really enjoyed doing this blog and I hope you will continue to follow me when I move over to my new blog.

On July 9, 2011, the SUNUP television program aired a segment with me talking about grapes (and blackberries and a wee bit on pecans).  You can view that video here:

In this epidose I talk about how some of the grape varieties are faring now since the freeze.

June 2011 that is.  It sure felt hot to me, so I went on the Agweather Mesonet site to find out just how much hotter it was than normal.  Below are the results.  I selected certain cities and counties to form the data set.

City                     County     Avg Temp June 2011    30-year Avg     Normal Diff.

Altus                   Jackson             89.8                                           79.2                               +10.6 F

Bessie                 Washita              87.3                                          77.4                                +9.9 F

Chandler           Lincoln              83.6                                           75.4                                 +8.2 F

El Reno              Canadian          83.6                                            76.6                                  +7.0 F

Fairview            Major                86.3                                            78.0                                  +8.3 F

McAlester         Pittsburg         82.8                                            77.6                                  +5.2 F

Medicine Park Comanche       86.6                                            78.2                                   +8.4 F

Norman             Cleveland        84.7                                            76.9                                    +7.8 F

Perkins               Payne               84.1                                             76.8                                    +7.3 F

Vinita                 Craig                 79.1                                            75.5                                      +3.6 F

As you can see these temperature are substantially hotter, especially in the western and central part of the state.  Extreme temperatures lead to stress, so make sure to keep the vines well watered.  Regions of the state where very cold temperatures during February already caused vine injury or damage should be carefully monitored.  I have observed several vines “crashing” at Perkins as them temperatures have risen.  Some vines have a small to moderate crop on them thus drawing away more reserves from the vine itself.  Root system size and health can be compromised as well during times of stress.  It looks as if July won’t be any better (and so far it is worse).  If this extreme heat keeps up much longer I believe we may start to see a critical situation occur in some vineyards where winter injury was a major problem.  Keep a close eye on the vines and keep them watered.

You may recall earlier this year when I reported the cold damage we had at the Perkins station.  And, maybe you recall that I said some vines may bud out and produce leaves and even fruit, but crash later on and die.  Behold that proof below:

Lemberger vine crashes.

Lemberger vine crashes.

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