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In part two of our series on the Missouri State Fruit Experimentation Station, KSMU's Greg Leuthen finds out about the latest research at the facility.
For the last three years, research professors like Wenping Qiu and Laszlo Kovacs have been studying viruses in several different species of grapevines to benefit Missouri farmers and grape processors. It seems the timing couldn't be better, as the number of wineries in Missouri have more than doubled in the last ten years according to the Missouri Wine and Grape Board.
Qiu is an associate research professor at the Mountain Grove campus and the director of the Missouri Grape Importation and Certification Program. He explains the process of growing and researching the grapes for viruses by establishing a mother block.
Qiu says he wants to use the information gathered from the grapevine research to eliminate the genes that are involved in the disease development in grapes.
Laszlo Kovacs, who co-directs the Center for Grapevine Technology with Qiu, says that Missouri's Climate has a big impact on the spread of fungal pathogens and diseases.
To fight the diseases, Kovacs says the Fruit Experimentation Stations and farmers find themselves using fungicides at an extremely high rate each summer to make sure that certain species of grapes stay healthy.
Once all the data is collected on good and bad gene cells in each of the grape species in the study, the Station hopes to genetically engineer grapes that would only need to be sprayed with fungicides once a year. Kovacs says the dry climates in California and Arizona already allow farmers to spray their crops no more than once a year.
In the Final Segment on the Fruit Experimentation Station, you'll hear about college students getting a chance at hands on experience in the research labs and getting to work with the research professors at the station.