Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Research is the Key: Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium

Wine grapes in Lodi, CaliforniaI had the pleasure this week of welcoming a gathering of research scientists, grape growers, winemakers and officials to Sacramento for the 2011 Pierce’s Disease Research Symposium.  This event gives researchers from California universities and their colleagues from across the nation and around the world an opportunity to accelerate and fine-tune their work by sharing insights, discoveries and technical information.

Their work is the centerpiece of a program that began back in 1999 when the grapevine pest the glassy-winged sharpshooter was found to be spreading Pierce’s disease in Southern California vineyards. State, federal and local officials have worked diligently with growers and other stakeholders for more than a decade now to keep sharpshooter infestations in check, and these are valuable efforts, to be sure – but this symposium serves as an annual reminder that the key to the long-term success of this program, and of many similar efforts to manage and eradicate agricultural and environmental pests, is research.

Summaries of research projects and other information about the symposium are available online at

Research is the clearest path toward improving the range and effectiveness of our management options, and it is often the only path toward the development of more sustainable alternatives for the wide variety of growers and consumers we serve.

This symposium marks 11 years and 200+ research projects thus far on Pierce’s disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter. The investment has produced clear progress, and a lot of farmers are still farming today because of the work these scientists are doing.

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