Viticulture, fruit lab will support wine industry

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NEWLY RENAMED Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Viti-culture and Fruit Lab — for-merly the Texas Pierce’s Dis-ease Research and Extension Program lab — is now part of the Texas A&M University System. The building is lo-cated on Business Court near the Gillespie County Fair Grounds and the airport. – Photo courtesy Jim Kamas

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service recently received a contribution allowing the purchase of a pre-existing facility in Fredericksburg by the Texas A&M University System that will support the state’s viticulture and fruit industries, according to an agency official.

Originally opened in 2007 as the Texas Pierce’s Disease Research and Extension Program laboratory, the 3,200-square-foot facility is located near the Gillespie County Airport. It includes a main building, three large exterior greenhouses and an adjacent research and demonstration plot.

The facility, which now has been renamed the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Viticulture and Fruit Lab, will provide additional education, outreach and research related to statewide fruit production, said Dr. Doug Steele, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service director.

“This is a critical partnership for us as we make a commitment to the facilities, staff and programs that will make a difference across the state,” Steele said. “We greatly appreciate the contribution of Frio Canyon Vineyards and industry encouragement to maintain and expand our efforts in Fredericksburg.”

He noted that while the facility would be staffed by AgriLife Extension personnel, its expanded scope of addressing challenges and opportunities for Hill Country and statewide fruit production would allow for successful collaboration with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, also part of the Texas A&M University System.

“This facility is important geographically because it is in the heart of the Texas Hill Country wine-grape and fruit-growing region, so experiments and Extension research demonstration plots are exposed to the same local environmental extremes as the crops in the area,” said Dr. Dan Lineberger, head of Texas A&M’s department of horticultural sciences in College Station.

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