Cornell Viticulture Innovator Recognized for Integrated Pest Management Excellence

Cornell Viticulture Innovator Recognized for Integrated Pest Management Excellence

Alice Wise harvests the last of the 2018 grapes. (Photo: NYSIPM)

Alice Wise, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Viticulture and Research Specialist, recently received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM). Wise received her award at the Long Island Agriculture Forum.

After a tenure of more than 25 years, Wise’s contribution to the wine and grape industry of Long Island is substantial and varied. The main focus of her IPM work has been to provide growers with information and best practices to reduce and optimize the use of pesticides. Wise has conducted research on under-trellis weed management, focusing on cover crop care, with the goal of decreasing the need for chemical use. She has promoted the deployment of netting to protect the grapes from migrating flocks of birds and studied the effectiveness of leaf-pulling as a way to prevent cluster rots. She has also monitored the emergence and development of grapevine viruses.

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Wise manages a 2.5-acre research vineyard where she conducts variety trials in pursuit of desirable traits like disease resistance. She shares her evaluation of vine performance and fruit quality with wine growers and contributes to multi-year studies on the topic. Her work has allowed growers to reduce their applications of pesticide while still producing high-quality grapes for use in their winemaking.

Wise also conducts research in commercial vineyards on the role of mealybugs and fruit scale in the distribution of the leafroll virus. Through a project funded by NY Farm Viability Institute, Wise scouts vineyards every other week for hot spots and provides growers with row-by-row information on the unwanted pests, allowing them to target their pesticide applications more specifically.

Wise helped to develop guidelines and regulations for Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW), the only third-party certified program for vineyards on the East Coast. LISW focuses on the use of safe low-impact pest management while guaranteeing that pesticides that can leach into the groundwater are never used. This is critical in Suffolk County, where everyone’s drinking water comes from a sole source aquifer. Wise has used her email listserv to continuously educate and update grape growers on disease pressure, occurrence, insect control problems, and recommendations.

“It is hard to overestimate Alice’s impact on the development of sustainable viticulture on Long Island and the Eastern U.S.,” says Laurence Perrine, CEO, LISW. “Her regular advice, both public and private, has helped each of us to make the most conservative and appropriate use of all plant protection materials.”