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The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology

New ivory plot connects vineyard to international supporter

Polibio Moreno (SNFL Group) examines ivory grape vines in campus vineyard with department chair Dr. Sonet Van Zyl and vineyard staff Jesus Zurita and Leah Groves.

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Faculty and staff learned vine management insights from SNFL Group staff members Polibio Moreno and Dr. Karla Huerta at a recent campus Ivory table grape block evaluation. The one-acre, green table grape plot was made possible by a donation by Sheehan Genetics and Casa Cristal Nursery that replaced an aging Thompson grape block two years ago. 

Campus vineyard manager Leah Groves and assistant Jesus Zurita, department chair Dr. Sonet Van Zyl and research technician Emily Wilkins also learned more about pruning, irrigation, application and other management practices from the staff from the internationally-renowned grape research company.

Huerta is a research and development technologist at the Sheehan Genetics testing center in Fresno and confirmed that the Ivory grape is a Central Valley green grape grower favorite all the way south to Bakersfield. Its potential for robust, early and mid-season harvests also traditionally offer fruit with great size and crunch (when vines are managed well). She runs trials on this and other grape varieties and collaborates on R&D projects with other coworkers based in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Peru.

Moreno, a technical manager, has moved his operations base to Mexico in recent years (with prior experience in India, Chile and Egypt). He has visited area table grape vineyards almost monthly until recently, and still visits the Central Valley four to five times a year to offer advice on various varieties (also has similar experience tied to avocados, cherries, peaches and other crops).

They see the one-acre plot in the Fresno State table grape vineyard as a valuable resource for current and potential future collaborations and an easy-to-showcase location for other growers and viticulture students (that can also help attract future employees or interns, too).  

This collaboration aligns with SNFL's mission emphasizing innovation and a healthier future for growers, retailers and consumers.