Survey Highlights Grape Industry Needs

Brian GermanGrapes, Industry, Nuts & Grapes

Cooperative Extension Table Grape Advisor for Tulare and Kings Counties, Joy Hollingsworth conducted a needs assessment to better understand the priorities and concerns within the grape industry. The survey was launched in March 2023 and shared with 1,166 growers from Tulare, Kings, Fresno, and Kern Counties. It got a ten percent response rate, hearing back from over 120 farmers, Pest Control Advisors, Certified Crop Advisors, and industry representatives. Growers were predominantly table and raisin farmers, with a few involved in winegrape production. 

Grape Industry

“The reason that I did the needs assessment is because I’m fairly new to my position…so I really wanted to get a good feel for what the needs of my clientele are before I dive into our research and extension program,” Hollingsworth said. The wide geographic response is likely because farmers are growing crops in multiple counties and are involved in various types of viticulture. 

The assessment will serve as a guidepost for future research conducted by the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). Hollingsworth’s survey found that those who responded farm predominantly conventional grapes. Grower’s interests include concerns surrounding the detrimental effects of powdery mildew, mealybugs, and pest management. Other issues of interest include yield, fruit quality, varieties, economics, regulations, and vineyard management. 

For the UCCE, another opportunity for study is to assess the efficacy of various weed management strategies in the industry. “Grapes are pretty competitive, but there does seem to be a strong interest in different weed management techniques,” Hollingsworth said.  

About 27 percent of the respondents managed organic grapes, but 37 percent of respondents were interested in organic weed control.  

“I think that’s indicating that even people who are not necessarily managing organically are kind of interested to see what’s going on with organic weed management. So, I think that’s a potential area to pursue,” said Hollingsworth, indicating the growing interest in alternative production methods.  Overall, Hollingsworth said that for her to effectively serve the grape industry, she needs continuous feedback from clientele about their experiences and grower’s interests in developing cultivation practices. “I would love to hear from them, just to make sure that I’m working on things that are important to the community,” she said. 

Contributing Author:
Lauren McEwen
AgNet West Intern