Pollen Systems Services for the 2019 Growing Season!

Pollen Systems Services for the 2019 Growing Season!

We have some exciting additions to our product line for the 2019 growing season. By combining aerial imaging services with ground-based imaging, we are bridging the gap between drone imagery and actionable management decisions. Our farm management tools are listed below with example imagery:

  1. High resolution (3 cm/pixel GSD) aerial imaging and analytics
  2. Ground-based imaging via tractors and autonomous ground vehicles (beta)
  3. GIS data augmentation
  4. Digital surface modeling of canopy
  5. Prescription maps for variable rate management
  6. Online data portal for instant access to farm data

Soil GIS Data and NDRE Imagery

By augmenting our NDRE imagery with soil GIS data, farmers can delineate different vigor zones based on their underlying soil type and historic management practices. They can also identify any health issues that may be a result of different edaphic conditions. Soil type numbers indicate the US Soil Survey classification ID.


Digital Surface Model of Canopy Height and Topographic GIS Data

A digital surface model is a 2D representation of the ground surface, including any objects on the surface. This enables farmers to understand how their crops are growing vertically and how topography will affect drainage and soil erosion. Red indicates a taller canopy, whereas yellow and green indicate a shorter canopy.


Prescription Maps for Variable Rate Management


Prescription maps can be used for a number of variable rate management practices, including spraying, irrigation, compost applications, and harvesting. Using our NDVI and NDRE vegetation index maps, we can create custom prescription maps to meet your specific variable rate management needs.

Many stand-still sensors, such as soil monitoring sensors, only collect data from several locations throughout your field so deriving a prescription for your entire farms can be difficult and inaccurate. With aerial drone data, you not only get a full view of your field, you also get more accurate and holistic prescriptions maps to treat each area of your farm according to its specific needs.

Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection

Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection
Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection
Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection
Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection

By combining our aerial imaging services with our tractor-based sensors, we can rapidly identify problem areas and enable you to investigate those areas with detailed imagery on the ground. With ground-based imagery, we can detect issues such as spider mites, fungal pathogens and other specific issues that aren’t visible from above and are too time consuming to detect manually.

Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection
Ground-based Imagery for Detailed Inspection

Grapevine Red Blotch Disease Management in the Vineyard

Photo credit: Washington State University

Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) can affect profitability of vineyards by up to $170,000 per acre over the lifespan of the vineyard. Many symptoms can result from GBRV depending on the varietal, but the fruit often show increased sugar and acidity which affects overall ripening and quality. Wine makers rely on the consistency their grapes for a balanced flavor profile, making GRBV infected grapes of no value in the production process.

While you can use services such as Pollen to detect diseased crops, specifically detecting GBRV can be challenging since many common symptoms are similar to grapevine leafroll virus and nutritional disorders, and the only valid method of testing is through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in a laboratory setting. You also need to send your vegetative samples to a testing lab in the late summer to early fall, and your cane samples during the dormant period.

Preventing the spread of GBRV can be even more challenging and requires an in depth knowledge of disease ecology in vineyard ecosystems. Spatiotemporal models show that vines are more likely to infected by nearby infected vines than from an outside inoculum source, and the vectors of disease are usually insects. Studies also show that only four rare vineyard insect species tested positive for GBRV, including (Spissistilus festinus) or commonly known as three-cornered alfalfa hopper (TCAH), two leafhoppers (Colladonus reductus and Osbornellus borealis) and a planthopper (Melanoliarus spp.). Currently the only confirmed vector of GRBV is the TCAH.

Best practices recommend you scout for disease symptoms late in the growing season and send your samples to a lab for absolute diagnosis. To determine if GBRV is spreading in your vineyard, divide the number of infected vines by the number of inspected vines and compare the percentages over several years. An increase in infected vines over a two to five year period indicates you have spreading. Management recommendations should be considered along with the site-specific and regional conditions of your vineyard, and should only be considered a guideline for your disease management.

If the disease incidence in your vineyard or vineyard area is higher than 30%, you may need to move your vineyard to a different location. After lab confirmation of GBRV, consider removing virus inoculum sources that are close to new plantings. You may also want to remove wild vines from nearby forested areas once you are permitted by the Regional Department of Fish and Wildlife. If you suspect GBRV in your vineyard, start monitoring for TCAH to stay aware of any potential disease vectors.
To help streamline the scouting process and detect disease earlier in the growing season, Pollen Systems provides aerial NDRE imaging and monitoring services. Late in the growing season, vineyards can direct scouting efforts to areas more likely to be infected with with GBRV, leafroll and other diseases. NDRE is highly sensitive to chlorophyll levels and will detect underperforming (low NDRE values) areas that are more likely to be infected. To learn more about Pollen Systems solutions please view our other blogs at http://www.pollensystems.com/news-updates/

Managing Powdery Mildew in the Vineyard

The 2017 growing season in Washington was an unusual year for powdery mildew. Irregularly high soil moisture from abundant snow pack and rainfall combined with higher humidity from smoke and cloud cover to increase the threat of infection for many vineyards. In addition, many vineyards developed poor fungal management practices because of historically low risk in the area.

Grapevine powdery mildew can cause devastating and costly damage to your vineyard if not managed properly. With broad spectrum fungicides disrupting the ecological balance of your vineyard and targeted fungicides becoming less effective on resistant strains of powdery mildew, (Erysiphenecator), finding a solution to treat powdery mildew can be challenging.

Many vineyards tend to only worry about fungal infections in their fruit, however, foliar infections can inhibit photosynthesis and cause premature defoliation, and should be mitigated whenever possible. Even more devastating would be a complete failure, if left unmanaged. Early damage to vine foliage can result in poor fruit development, inconsistent flavors, and aromas.  

While fungal hyphae and chasmothecia can overwinter in dormant buds and in the vine bark, powdery mildew infections will not occur until after bud break when the temperature is well above 50°F It is also important to understand how weather patterns will affect your risk of infection, with mild temperatures and high humidity being the ideal conditions for powdery mildew growth. By assessing winter and early spring soil moisture, vineyards can get a sense for how their vines will develop, with available water and warmer temperatures resulting in more rapid growth.

The critical window for winegrape fruit infection is from intermediate pre-bloom to four weeks after fruit set. During this period vineyards are advised to review the best management practices laid out in the WSU Viticulture and Enology Extension News.

  1. Schedule your first seasonal spray before vine development gets to an unmanageable stage.
  2. Shorten spray intervals if vines develop rapidly to ensure all foliage is protected.
  3. Use vine training, shoot thinning and leaf removal to increase airflow, sunlight exposure and even foliar spray coverage.
  4. Monitor and manage vine health with Pollen Systems aerial overviews and monitoring systems. Then repeat step 3 as appropriate.

With the 2019 growing season underway, monitoring for fungal infections and validating the effectiveness of fungicide treatments will be critical to protect your vineyard. Using Pollen Systems’ NDVI and NDRE maps, you can validate the effects of foliar fungicide applications by monitoring the weekly health and vigor of vines in different application zones. Our newly developed ground based imaging technology can also assist in detecting powdery mildew, enabling you to target specific zones and reduce fungicide applications.

Assessing Vineyard Cold Damages

The 2019 winter was harsh and in some areas shattered records. At this point, there may not be a lot vineyards can do to prevent additional damage if steps have not already been taken. But at a minimum you want to move air around or prevent air from being trapped into a cold air pocket that frequently happens in vineyards. Cold air pockets can still be spotted in early Spring with frost developments. Additional steps can be taken for the 2020 winter like avoid planting near large rocks or physical structures that can trap the air (or move the structures). In the meantime consider use of wind machines to move the cold air that gets trapped on the floor of the vineyard to create this cold air pockets. Also remember that direct cold damage to roots can occur if the soil temperatures drop below 23° F so you want to adequate soil moisture to buffer low temperatures.

Assessing cold damage on a timely basis when the vineyards start to de-acclimate from the cold in the spring is essential. The debate on whether to leave too many buds at pruning at the expense of pass-through after bud break requires multiple samplings and diligence. Using Pollen Systems detailed drone scouting procedures can assist the vineyard to quickly get a rapid overview of their acres and can be more accurate than walking the vineyard. In addition the decisions on whether to retain vines and blocks or replant must also be made quickly. See Washington State University Extension paper on Assessing and Managing Cold Damage in Washington Vineyards for a very thorough process to minimize any cold damage in 2019. With the recent cold wave and storms that hit the Pacific Northwest, vineyards will continue at risk of frost and cold damage as we get closer to bud break. For regions with diverse edaphic conditions and clonal varieties, managing this risk will be important. While some varietals such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are more cold sturdy and will delay bud break until the warmer months, some may wake from their winter slumber much earlier and be exposed to unseasonably cold temperatures.

The 2019 winter was harsh and in some areas shattered records. At this point, there may not be a lot vineyards can do to prevent additional damage if steps have not already been taken. But at a minimum you want to move air around or prevent air from being trapped into a cold air pocket that frequently happens in vineyards. Cold air pockets can still be spotted in early Spring with frost developments. Additional steps can be taken for the 2020 winter like avoid planting near large rocks or physical structures that can trap the air (or move the structures). In the meantime consider use of wind machines to move the cold air that gets trapped on the floor of the vineyard to create this cold air pockets. Also remember that direct cold damage to roots can occur if the soil temperatures drop below 23° F so you want to adequate soil moisture to buffer low temperatures.