KYM LUDVIGSEN – Viticultural Consultant
ABN 82 562 492 608.
Vineyard Activity in October.
POINTS TO PONDER
1. Pests and Diseases
It has been a wet spring with lots of light rain causing the working boots to remain wet for the last couple of weeks. It’s been a great breeding ground for fungus with small pockets of botrytis appearing on isolated leaves across the vineyard; ideal conditions for phomopsis and powdery mildew and the movement of snails into the vine canopy.
With windy and wet conditions set to continue for the rest of spring these disease and pest pressures will continue so what can be done?
It is suggested that a minimum of 3 protectant fungicides be applied prior to flowering that target powdery and phomopsis. There are a number of fungicide options available so check out the AWRI web page for suitable chemicals (www.awri.com.au). From 5% flowering to 80% flowering either continue with the protectant fungicide programme or consider some of the fungicides reported to target specific diseases noting that re-entry restrictions can vary and that post 80% capfall the type and number of fungicides available for use is limited.
Critical in your pest and disease programme is the need to eliminate LBAM before the bunches close as these little buggers will move bunch rots through the bunches if the climatic conditions are suitable. Given the likelihood that bunch rot latent infections may have occurred early it is thought necessary to use broad spectrum fungicides over the flowering to bunch closure period to limit the impact and likelihood of this disease affecting your vines.
There have been isolated incidences of frost damage around the state and our worries with frost will remain a top interest until after mid November.
Some suggest the best thing is to go on a week’s holiday to better manage your personal stress after a frost event as there is little you can do about it in most situations. Crop reduction is the likely outcome of a frost event as secondary buds are usually 50% less likely to contain bunches than the primary buds.
Talking about this I have noticed that some vines have had very uneven budburst. It’s been the usual culprits of cold snaps or mites – it’s really hard to tell as symptoms look similar. Vines pruned early have got away well but the later pruned vines are have very uneven budburst. I have the expectation that everything will even out as the days get warmer without effect on yields. My experience has been that the vines even out over the season so I don’t expect a great difference in baume at harvest but ….. it’s something else to worry about.
This last period has been windy as well – my Mum used to say that people get a bit funny on windy days – same as on full moons – and our vines tend to get knocked around by strong winds as well. Really not much can be done when vines are knocked around by strong wind.
I like to spend at least a couple of hours a week looking around the vineyard checking out what’s happening. Things to look for at the moment are earwigs chewing leaves especially around posts – they do a bit of leaf damage now but seem to change their eating habits as the season progresses to chew on the creepy crawlies that can cause problems later in the season. Generally no control is required for earwigs.
Snails will move into the canopy as you slash or cultivate the mid row area. Laying bait especially with rain coming or just fallen is the most effective.
I have also noticed some cockatoo and kangaroo damage around the place – mild problems really as a friend was comparing my animal issues to the bears he occasionally he finds in his vineyard. Imagine coming over a hill and facing a black or brown bear – can’t go backward and forward is really not on … would want the sandshoes on I reckon.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure hence it is important to take the time monitoring things as they happen in the vineyard. Using the growth stages chart you can keep a record of the phenological stages and record what’s happening in the vineyard.
2. Foliage Management
It is a busy time in the vineyard as spring turns to summer. I’m nearly finished dropping my foliage wires so that I can lift them in a few weeks as the 1st foliage wire lift occurs just before flowering. I’ve tried leaving wires up, leaving 1 wire up and dropping them and have found that as I work by myself dropping wires and lifting them is the best way for me and my vines.
When I consider shoot thinning I take a gamble and remove the shoots when they are about 100 mm long. The risk is that crop is removed when shoots are removed. The vines will compensate with bigger bunches and stronger growth will occur on the remaining shoots. The aim of shoot thinning is to be better positioned along the cordon and reduce bunches touching each other. This should reduce bunch rot levels.
It is also a good time to pinch out bunches on shoots if necessary. Bunches can be pinched out while they are soft and don’t require snips – but again assumes crop levels are high and no issues will occur later in the season. In most situations crop thinning around flowering is used to remove bunches on shoots bring levels back to 2 bunches a shoot.
Once shoots on vine trunks get longer than 80mm the trunks can be de-budded either by hand – and that’s an expensive task – or by mechanical or chemical means. Makes things look good and centres the vine growth.
As any young vines grows it requires direction to ensure it runs along the cordon wire and sets the vine up for future better management of cropping and pruning. Back in the “old days” when vine training we used string and wrapped the growing vine up the string. Present techniques use grow tubes that reduce the work involved and speed the vine training process up. Replants benefit especially from grow tubes. Tubes also enable more efficient methods of weed control to be undertaken and protection from the many “wild” animals is enhanced.
3. Soil Management
Anyone who knows me know I have a thing about weeds in the vine row and have an unhealthy need to ensure weed control under vines does not occur. It really doesn’t matter how this occurs – cultivation, slashing or herbicides – just need to have no weeds under the vines as competition for nutrition and water can have a big impact on the vine’s growth. This is especially the case if you have a living sward in the mid row in a dry growing situation.
Hard to control weeds, resurgent weeds that come back time after time and clumps of weeds need some attention over the growing season. Apart from being unsightly they perform as described above and can be very competitive with the vines. The old hand hoe and the wiper snipper can be used – and we all know how hard that can be.
This month will see us slashing the waterways and mid rows to tidy the vineyard environment – make everything look “nice”.
I often tell clients the vineyard can look good now time but the real measure is how it looks at Xmas. It’s a good indicator for your vineyard.
In my vineyard I slashed the mid rows a couple of weeks ago and will be applying a low rate of knockdown herbicide to the full row in the next few weeks before rolling the cover crop to form a mulch across the mid row surface – a good way of increasing the organic matter level in the vineyard and getting the best value for the vines.
It seems every time I walk thro the vineyard a wooden post breaks – it’s incredible and expensive. Replacing broken posts seems a never ending task. I seriously wonder why these posts break – certainly harvest breaks a few posts, sometimes the weight of the crop and foliage around harvest can break a post and the occasional machine but just walking past???
I am dropping trellis wires – nearly finished – at the moment and will likely be lifting them in a couple of weeks. I’m keen to get in front of the jobs and think I won’t go away in winter next year.
The irrigation season isn’t that far away – in fact it seems the year is advancing very quickly and it won’t be long before the irrigation programme is in full swing.
I’ve printed off the record sheets and am getting my monitoring systems up to date
by checking the mechanisms and recording devices.
Do you test your irrigation system the beginning of each season to ensure that the water you think you are applying is actually being applied? Measuring the output of a number of drippers across an irrigation block can be very informative and certainly worth doing
Flush the end lines is one of those tasks that I despise – all that bending down – I was at a training course recently where the instructor stated I needed to run water thro the end taps for at least 22 minutes to actually clean the lines – surprisingly long time I thought.
Spring is a good time to service your pump, engine and filters – you have the time so do it!
Is your system working at its optimum efficiency and capacity? How do you know? Have a look at Ian Goodwin’s booklet Irrigation of Vineyards – A winegrowers guide to irrigation scheduling and regulated deficit irrigation(1995)
It covers most issues with regard irrigation monitoring and measuring
Fertilisation pre flowering can involve a bit of Nitrogen and maybe zinc applied either through the drip system or in a suitable foliar format.
6. Vineyard Development
Being an eternal optimist I’m planting a few vines this year. Why – I suppose on a whim and a thought things are on the up for wine sales. Now I’m committed to the project I have my doubts… the recent WFA discussion about the future of the wine industry has raised doubts in my mind and being in Victoria doesn’t help (we have none of the major corporate wine businesses operating in Victoria with any enthusiasm).
Victoria has so many small boutique wineries and so few large ones but beautiful fruit in most regions that is unknown to most non Victorian winemakers.
Small winemakers making small amounts of wines at the top end that are delicate, stylish and good to drink are basically unknown to the marketplace – how often have you been asked – where are your wines from? Haven’t heard of your winery!
No matter if you haven’t finished planting or don’t plant until you pass the frost risk you have until November or even later if everything is in place.- you know the irrigation is installed, the trellis installed and you are prepared for the vine training and weed control.
I keep telling myself – it will be fine. The world needs more wine and I can make it!
What would you do to maintain funding for viticultural and wine funding extension in Victoria?
As growers and winemakers we don’t contribute or co-fund any Victorian extension or R & D.
Is this good enough?
We don’t support our Wine Victoria organisation enough.
Wine Victoria are actively lobbying Government on our behalf for example on the anti alcohol lobby, licensing law changes, WET taxation policy discussion, the regional extension programme, trade development to name a few things they have undertaken on our industry’s behalf and yet still struggle to finance their operation.
These things are under threat of ending if we don’t get out and support Wine Victoria and our local wine region.
The situation is serious.
We need to get behind Wine Victoria become members and become involved in your industry.
Pest and disease
– minimum of 3 fungicides pre flowering for powdery, phomopsis and downy;
– petiole test at 80% flowering;
– ensure you cover the vines with fungicides over the flowering period.
o Bunch rot evidence in vineyards now – consider 80% flowering and 2 weeks later fungicide;
– the wet spring / misty mornings indicate a likely latent rot infection – err on the side of caution
– checked out and ready to go
– lift wires prior to flowering
– shoot thin vigorous varieties (if necessary / required)
– slash mid rows headlands and waterways
– apply a full row herbicide or roll the mid row cover crop to add organic material to the vineyard
– manage the escape weeds
– all the work is done!
– train the young vines;
– make sure the irrigation programme is rigorously maintained;
– apply the necessary fertilisers to keep the vines growing;
– weed free is the best system for optimum growth in young vineyards
Thought for the Month.
What are the implications of climate change for our vineyards? Recent scientific information is telling us the last few years weather patterns will become the norm.
For many of us in our own vineyards this means:-
• Annual rainfall will be about the last 10years average. (It’s been drought followed by drought)
• The rain that does fall will become more winter dominant with less reliable spring rains
• Summer storms will decrease in intensity
• Frost incidence may increase
The impact will be:-
• Less water captured in dams
• Increased frost risk
• More wind
• Greater reliance on water sources other than dams.
• Hot spells will be hotter and drier
We will need to assess the viticultural risks associated with any ongoing water shortage and consider ways to better harvest water that does fall as rain.
• Ongoing water shortages
• Water quality and quantity issues
• Increased levels in salinity in water used for irrigation
• Yield reductions
• Earlier ripening and earlier harvests
• Increased frost risk
• Intense, short, hot periods during summer
• Better knowledge of water use and application
o Dam storage issues
o Using constructed catchments
o Ground water options
o Winery waste water
o Decreases likely
o Salinity issues likely
o Drought tolerant varieties
o Salinity tolerance capacity
• Soil Management
o Mulch – reduces moisture losses by shading soil surface
o Cultivation – can act as a surface mulch
o Cover crops – can build organic matter levels on soil surface
• Variety selection
o Need to consider varieties suited to warmer viticultural areas
• Vineyard relocation
o Move vineyards to higher parts away from frost pockets
o Frost flows like water so gullies and water ways are to be avoided
• Low input Viticulture
o Focus on simple fungicide programmes
Just in time chemical purchases
o Reduce labour inputs
o Use the K.I.S.S system
o Mechanise as many vineyard processes as possible
o Pre prune, machine harvest, chemical de-bud, simple trellis options, mechanise wire lifting
o Think smarter to achieve objectives
To your ongoing passion for viticulture.
An over active imagination (2013)
To your ongoing pursuit and passion about viticulture and your vineyard.
KYM LUDVIGSEN M.AppSci (Agric), Grad. Dip. Wine
P.O. Box 545, Ararat. 3377. Victoria
0353 522 798
0427 971 835
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I operate a viticulture consultancy based on 36 years experience in the Wine Industry. I have Vineyard Management experience in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and in New Zealand and Tasmania.
Please feel free to contact me if you require a site visit or would like to take advantage of an ongoing consultancy arrangement.
As a guide my fees comprise:
• For an ongoing consultancy $150 per hour plus GST, travel ($50 per hour), accommodation and incidentals at cost
• A one off visit – $175 per hour plus GST, travel, incidentals and accommodation at cost.
Whilst a detailed document setting out specific fees for selected tasks is available I am available to tailor a programme to suit your specific requirements.
Disclaimer – The information contained in this newsletter is a guide only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it constitute advice. Application of any of the information provided requires assessment for suitability to your vineyard. Comprehensive information can be provided by Ludvigsen Viticult