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Scientists created an app for more accurate grape disease assessment

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Posted January 7, 2016

These days there are smartphone apps for everything. Some of them make our life just a little easier, but majority of them focus on keeping us entertained. However, scientists also create application for very specific purposes. For example, now scientists from University of Adelaide have developed an app, which will help winemakers visually assess grapes for the sector’s most costly disease, powdery mildew.

Powdery mildew is very hard to assess visually, because it can be confused with dust or spray residue, and it is very costly for the industry. Image credit: Maccheek via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Powdery mildew is very hard to assess visually, because it can be confused with dust or spray residue, and it is very costly for the industry. Image credit: Maccheek via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

The app, called Pmapp, is supposed to help grape growers and wineries make informed decisions about state of their plants for the powdery mildew disease. It should allow grape growers to make more accurate decisions about quality and price of grapes. Main task, battling powdery mildew, is very important for entire wine industry in Australia and around the globe, because it is extremely costly disease, which, if not controlled, can cause major financial loss.

Professor Eileen Scott, project leader, said: “Powdery mildew is a serious disease of grapevines worldwide and, in Australia, has an estimated annual cost of $76 million through yield loss and the cost of control. It causes serious quality issues with bad flavours and aromas in wine and we’ve seen that with small amounts of the surface area of Chardonnay bunches affected by powdery mildew there is an oily ‘mouth-feel’ in the resulting wine. The wine sector therefore has a very low tolerance of powdery mildew on grapes with downgrading at 3–6% or rejection when disease is more severe.”

One of the worst things about this disease is that it is very hard to assess visually. It can easily be confused with dust or spray residue. Pmapp is supposed to help people in the industry to make these assessments easier and to analyse spread of the disease in the field.

App will match image took by grape growers to computer generated one and will calculate the proportion of bunches affected and of surface area affected. It is great analytical information, which will help people involved to make better decisions. There is also a library of different images of patterns of the disease that grape growers can look through to be more familiarized with the disease. Pmapp is already available on Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

Source: adelaide.edu.au

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