The California Table Grape Commission has been awarded a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) grant for a three-year project in the amount of $363,500 for research on invasive pests that pose threats to the table grape industry.

The grant will be used to develop postharvest treatments that could help keep markets open in the event an invasive pest jeopardizes California table grape shipments.

“Invasive species have the potential to completely disrupt the marketing of affected products,” said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. “An invasive pest find can affect domestic shipments as quickly as it disrupts exports,” Nave said. “Table grapes are a $1.3 billion FOB industry in California with shipments to over 60 countries worldwide. In a 100 million box industry, it is vital to keep all markets open.”

Dr. Franka Gabler, viticulture research director for the commission, says the money will be used to research and develop effective postharvest treatments for invasive pests of concern. “Our ultimate goal is to secure uninterrupted shipments of California table grapes to domestic and
international markets,” said Gabler. “The first three targeted pests are spotted wing drosophila, European grapevine moth, and brown marmorated stink bug.

According to Gabler, the grant project will identify postharvest treatments that do not compromise table grape quality, that are compatible with standard industry practices and that do not require significant investment to adapt existing infrastructure, thus helping to ensure the sustainability of table grape farms in California.

The California Table Grape Commission was created by the California legislature in 1967 to increase worldwide demand for fresh California grapes through a variety of research and promotional programs.