UA Divsion of Agriculture

Major Research Programs

within the Institute of Food Science and Engineering

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Vineyard Mechanization and Grape Processing Program

The U of A Viticulture and Wine Program   The viticulture and enology research, directed by Dr. Justin Morris, has been focused toward the study of the total viticulture and processing system and the evaluation of each variable's impact on final product yields and quality. As part of the total system approach, research has looked at such areas as:

Total Vineyard Mechanization

A vineyard mechanization program of national scope has been established. Since grapes and wines are currently produced in over 40 states, and hand labor is a limiting factor in most vineyards, keen interest exists. The University of Arkansas has a patent on 12 mechanized systems for grape production that are adaptable to most grape cultivars. Mechanization is increasing grape yields by about 1 ton per acre with the same grape juice quality as seen using hand labor. Vineyard mechanization increases efficiency, reduces labor costs, increases profitability and will help sustain the U.S. grape industry by allowing small farming operations to better compete.

More about the Total Vineyard Mechanization Program Link to Total Vineyard Mechanization Program description

Improved Grape Varieties and Processing Methods for Wines

Improving wine quality is a constant goal in the wine industry. Enology studies are underway to look at new and improved grape varieties and improved processing techniques for wine production. Results of this work will lead to providing new tools for the production of high quality wines and increasing profitability for the wine industry.

More about research in the Grape and Wine Program Link to Grape and Wine Program description

Vineyard Training and Production Systems

Most of these studies have taken a systems approach to examine the effects of the various preharvest variables on yield and on raw product composition and processed quality. Vineyard research has optimized Concord yield and quality based on pruning severity, training systems, shoot positioning, etc. General guidelines for establishing a successful grape vineyard such as row spacing, trellising systems, production systems and methods such as drip irrigation have been established. In addition research has been conducted in such areas as:

  • The effect of excessive potassium in the vineyard on juice and wine quality
  • Sunlight management in the vineyard and grape quality
  • The effects of combing, center breaking, pruning, and shoot positioning on juice and wine quality
  • The effects of growth regulators and different levels of cluster and shoot thinning on grape yield and product quality
  • How resveratrol content (an anti-cancer compound found in grapes) is affected by vineyard cultural manipulation

Grapes as an Alternative Crops for Small and Mid-Size Farms

Many farmers with small and medium-size farms have found it difficult to make a living and are looking for alternative agricultural activities to increase farm income. Wine and juice grapes offer one such alternative since, on a per acre basis, vineyards can command returns that greatly exceed returns from conventional crops. Research has been conducted to provide information to assist these farmers in entering the grape and wine industry. Outcomes of this research have been provided to farmers and others through a series of consumer-oriented publications. These include:

   To view a comprehensive review of the UA Enology
and Viticulture Program
Link to Enology and Viticulture Program website