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Grapevine Remote Sensing Analysis of Phylloxera Early Stress

Project Description

California winegrape cultivation is vital to the State's economy and
provides the main support for the nation's ผ billion retail
wine industry. In 1994 the wine industry provided 194,000 direct jobs
nationally, with total wages of ū.5 billion. Tax assessments
on wine remitted ũ.6 billion to federal, state and local
governments (source: Barsby & Associates).

Since the late 1980's, California wine growers have been faced with
destruction of their vines by infestation of a root louse named
phylloxera (biotype B). The louse kills vines by feeding on their
roots. There is no way to eradicate the pest, and infested areas must
eventually be replanted on a phylloxera-resistant or tolerant
rootstock. The infestation is present in eight California counties,
and is particularly severe in Napa and Sonoma Counties where thousands
of acres of premiere vineyards have already been destroyed or are
scheduled for future replacement.


During the 1993-1995 time period, NASA Ames Research Center (Ecosystem
Science and Technology Branch) collaborated with industry and
university partners to develop and transfer the use of remote sensing
and associated computerized technologies as a tool for vineyard
managers to use in addressing the phylloxera problem. NASA's partners
on this project included the University of California Cooperative
Extension (Napa County), University of California Davis (Entomology
Dept.), California State University Chico (School of Agriculture) and
the Robert Mondavi Winery. Staff from each organization brought unique
expertise to the project, working together in the field, laboratory
and computer room. The work was co-funded by NASA's Office of Advanced
Concepts and Technology and the Robert Mondavi Winery. Project results
are being made available to the wine industry, commercial remote
sensing product vendors, agricultural community and general public
through invited oral presentations! and written reports. The
typically rapid progression of phylloxera infestation was
characterized for the 1989-1993 time period across a ~1000 acre
Mondavi property using retrospective color infrared aerial

During the 1993 growing season, field and aircraft data were collected
from Napa Valley test sites with special sensors designed to study
earth resources, including plant stress manifested as reductions in
vegetation canopy density. Infestations are detectable in this
remotely sensed imagery, even in the early stage when phylloxera are
underground eating vine roots but the above ground plant still appears


By using remote sensing and associated analysis techniques, growers
can attain earlier knowledge on the rate of spread of the infestation,
and the rate of decline for affected vines. It is anticipated that
this source of information will allow for more informed replanting
decisions, helping California wineries retain market share.

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