New Ohio research specialist for grape and wine production

Three recently filled positions in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University are intended to advance research supporting Ohio’s rapidly expanding wine industry.

Andrew Kirk has been hired as research specialist and manager of the Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station, a 25-acre location near the Lake Erie shoreline dedicated to comprehensive wine-grape research and education.

The station, located in Kingsville, is one of eight research farms throughout the state managed by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Kirk has a master’s degree in horticulture from Lincoln University in New Zealand (2016) and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio State (2011). At Lincoln University, he specialized in viticulture and enology and also gained experience in the management of research vineyards. Previously, he was an apprentice at Markko Vineyard in Conneaut, not far from the research station, from 2011-12.

“The research specialist position is a new venture for managing OARDC’s Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station,” said Ken Scaife, assistant to the OARDC director for field operations. “It provides an opportunity for Andrew Kirk to respond to local grower needs through research and outreach programming, in addition to management of the research station.

“We received thoughtful feedback from Ashtabula and Lake county growers during the search process. Their input was very helpful in OARDC’s decision to hire Andrew Kirk.”

As research specialist and station manager, Kirk will provide leadership in management, research and outreach coordination for research and education programs at the research station. He will also work in coordination with Ohio State faculty in the design and implementation of field research trials related to grape and wine production — including on aspects such as pest, weed and disease control; new variety trials; cold tolerance; and wine quality.

 

Grape disease research

Those faculty collaborators will now also include Elizabeth Long, assistant professor of entomology, and Melanie Lewis Ivey, assistant professor of plant pathology.

A Ph.D. graduate in plant, insect and microbial sciences from the University of Missouri, Long joined the college in January 2016. She is an expert in integrated pest management of muck soil vegetables and grapes.

Meanwhile, Lewis Ivey will join CFAES in June 2016 and will be conducting research on diseases of grapes that are of major importance to Ohio’s industry. She holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Ohio State and is currently an assistant professor at Louisiana State University.

Ohio State’s research and education programs related to wine grapes and wine provide valuable support to a growing industry that contributes $786 million to Ohio’s economy, employs more than 5,000 people and produced 1.2 million gallons of wine a year, according to the latest study from the Ohio Grape Industries Committee.

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