Technology — With photos and research, the OSU-developed program offers in-the-field assistance

A new app developed at Oregon State University aims to help grape growers accurately diagnose unhealthy grapevines, in the hopes of stemming the common urge to immediately spray the vines with pesticides.

“We wanted to help growers explore further before they sprayed for a pest that might not be there,” said OSU viticulture extension specialist Patty Skinkis, who helped create the app called “Recognize the Symptoms and Causes of Stunted Growth in Vineyards.”

Because her department had been queried over the years by growers concerned they had pests – particularly rust mites – in their grapevines, Skinkis and her collaborators wanted to share the fact that there are a slew of culprits for grapevine stunting, well beyond just rust mites.

Damage from early frost, herbicide drift, water stress, nutrient deficiency or disease can all play a role, and spraying pesticides does not address these issues.

Grapevine stunting, often known as “short shoot syndrome,” generally presents itself in the spring when vines start growing new shoots. Rust mites are one possible culprit, but even when they have infested a vine it can often outgrow the stunting and continue to develop through the rest of the season.

The mites are hard to detect, as they are microscopic arachnids, so growers will sometimes assume they have them and take measures to combat the mites, despite the other possible diagnoses. That’s where the app comes in.

Available for iOS, Android tablets and smartphones, the app provides guidance from eight field scientists in the OSU extension program. It also includes color photographs that growers can refer to in making a diagnosis.

Developing the information into an app was a natural choice, Skinkis said, because the resource is meant to be used in the field.

“It saves growers from sifting through pages of printed information,” she said. “Now they can just bring up the app on their tablet or smartphone when they’re out in the vineyard.”

Beyond assisting in grapevine malady diagnosis, the app lists resources growers can use to learn about grapevine management and health in general.

For more information or to obtain the app, visit https:// catalog.extension.oregonstate. edu/em8975.

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