VIT TECH provides continuing education resources for northeast Oregon viticulturists

Syrah grapes in a vineyard in Umatilla County.

Continuing education provides an opportunity for agricultural producers to learn about advances in research and improved practices and earn pesticide recertification credits. VIT TECH was established by Oregon State University Extension Service in 2021 to provide continuing education opportunities for wine grape growers and wine industry members in the Walla Walla area. VIT TECH features locally relevant presentations by academic and industry experts to increase awareness and adoption of sustainable, science-based growing practices.

In 2022, VIT TECH offered monthly seminars from April to August with a variety of speakers including from OSU, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of California Cooperative Extension, Oregon Department of Agriculture, covering topics such as:

  • Powdery mildew.
  • Watershed issues.
  • Irrigation research.
  • Regional geology.
  • Leafroll disease.
  • Mealybug management.
  • Vineyard redevelopment.

In 2023, VIT TECH offered expanded the sessions to cover:

  • Cover crops.
  • Nematode control.
  • Crown gall management.
  • Rootstock selection.
  • Soil health.
  • Sub-surface irrigation.
  • A field tour of ongoing OSU and Washington State University research projects.

The five seminars in 2022 drew a total of 72 attendees and 19 pesticide recertification credits were awarded. The 2023 series gained in popularity, drawing a total of 102 attendees. Thirty-six pesticide recertification credits were awarded.

Post-webinar surveys indicated that 100% of respondents learned something new, 64% of respondents are likely to change their practices based on this information, and 100% of respondents are likely to attend future sessions. Recordings of the sessions on the OSU Extension website have received 255 views through the end of 2023 and have expanded the reach of this program across the Pacific Northwest.