KYM LUDVIGSEN – Viticultural Consultant
ABN 82 562 492 608.
Vineyard Activity in September.
POINTS TO PONDER
1. Pests and Diseases
So spring has sprung – the buds are moving and we are all thinking of our fungicides spray programme and the coming season.
If the weatherman can be believed it is going to be a wet & cool spring. Awareness of the pest and disease likely to occur in this climate should have guided your fungicide purchases.
So what are the issues likely to face us in a wet spring.
Phomopsis loves a wet spring. I have seen susceptible varieties go from 100 tonne in 1 year to 10 tonnes in another year. Typically tiny dark brown spots surrounded by a yellow halo are seen on the lower leaves of shoots in spring. The leaves can become distorted even stunted in severe infections. Some may turn yellow and fall prematurely. You may see bleached white areas, particularly around nodes. Phomopsis overwinters within the woody parts of the vine – on canes, spurs and prunings. 3 or 4 weeks after spring rains symptoms can appear on leaves so early season control is important – appropriate fungicides at 50% budburst and 2 weeks later is usually enough for control but long wet and warm conditions encourage growth.
Downy can be a problem early in the season but monitoring up until shoot length of around 20 cm is usually sufficient. Downy is encouraged by wet & warm conditions – look for 10:10:24 as infection period. Monitoring is critical.
Powdery Mildew is probably the biggest threat requiring control early in the season. It usually begins at budburst and is favoured by mild cloudy weather. The disease overwinters in 2 ways – as fungal growth in diseased buds called “flag shoots” early in the season or as spore-bearing resting bodies readily seen with a hand lens. They form abundantly in mid summer and develop through autumn on the surface of heavily infected leaves, stems and bunches.
In spring the flag shoots occur in low numbers and are often hidden in the canopy – flag shoots become distorted, grey coloured and curl upwards. Spores are produced rapidly on these shoots and blown onto near-by foliage. If uncontrolled powdery will spread steadily during the first 40 days from budburst, then rapidly, until by 80 days most vines will be at least partly diseased.
Spraying early in the season is key to control powdery – apply at weeks 2, 4, 6, after budburst – a minimum of 3 sprays before flowering – then 2 more applications until Xmas when your monitoring will help you make decisions for additional spray applications. Plans to have a strategic fungicide programme for powdery is fraught with risk.
The other major issue that can affect grapevines early in the season is botrytis rot. In wet conditions botrytis grows on young leaves to produce a characteristic V-shaped area of dead brown tissue often with a yellow margin extending from the edge of the leaf into the main veins. Vine trimming in wet weather is a no no as it can lead to shoot infection. The main control method is to prevent botrytis becoming established around flowering. Spray fungicides at late cap-fall and again just after berry set.
When you slash the vineyard early in the season – to get things under control – LBAM and other leafroller caterpillars crawl into the developing canopy to get food and protection but as they crawl around the newly forming canopy and later the bunches they spread the various rots around. It is essential to control the LBAM around flowering and definitely before bunch closure .
A lot of emphasis is being made about trunk diseases again in Australia. I was reading some articles from 2002 published by GWRDC today – I’m a boring bugger really – as I watched the footy. The lessons we were told 10 – 15 years ago seems we didn’t listen to. Nursery practices have not changed and trunk disease levels have increased as we continue to use dirty planting material collected from our own or neighbours vineyards rather than from vine improvement sources and nurseries are still using practices that end up spreading disease in new vines.
We have learnt basically nothing! Research efforts have shown the way, extension has provided the information to growers and we still experience trunk disease levels way above what they could be if we only used our brains. Eutypa, crown gall, leafroll and other virus diseases, botryosphaeria, black goo and all its mates seem to be on the move. If you listen to nothing else please use clean planting material when you put a vineyard in. This will assist you when vineyard profitability is the key to your survival. Check the vines for TD before you plant.
A friend is out today spraying for scale and another is worrying about mites as the buds start moving. Genuine concerns and worthy of attention if your vineyard has a history of their presence.
Walking your vineyard at least once a week having a look and recording phenology is well worth the effort. Recording what you are monitoring and then acting on what you see is important to ensure you are on top of things in your paddock.
I work on the assumption that if it looks good it will in all likelihood be good – if you don’t look you don’t know.
My annual fight with my animal friends is underway. The other day I nearly fell off my bike when Lucky stuck his ugly head up out of the grass as I hammered down a row on my way to lunch – a big brute with large brown eyes scared the living daylights out of me. He was hiding waiting his turn … always when I am unprepared …. next time ….
2. Soil Management
As usual I’m running a bit late with my soil management – too busy doing things off vineyard. Buds are moving and the knockdown herbicide should be out and the residuals should be being considered. Better late than never.
The first effort to control of undervine weeds should now be complete and thinking about how the mid row will be managed should be at the forefront of the mind.
In an article titled Vine rebellion against imbalance by P Skinkis & A Reeve in the August 2013 Wines & Vines states:
“In a 6 year trial using different vineyard floor management practices in Pinot Noir, a grass cover crop in tractor rows has helped reduce vine nitrogen-status compared to 100% tilled tractor rows, thereby influencing vegetative growth, fruitfulness and fruit set. Vines grown with perennial grass cover had reduced shoot growth rate, leaf area, pruning weight and tissue nitrogen”
So if you have an over vigorous vineyard permanent sward in the mid row is an obvious way to reduce vine vigour and affect many of the parameters affecting fruit quantity and quality.
And logically if your vines struggle then permanent swards may not be the best option for your vines.
The key thing is to think about your soil management to benefit your vineyard.
Phil Barnett from APAL sent me some information about his soil & Plant analytical service.
I talked to him and his prices are significantly cheaper than similar services – maybe worth a ring at 80% flowering for petioles or anytime for soil analysis
Trellis repairs are well under way. The number of wood posts broken in recent years has been huge. Many reasons have been put forward for this – the dry ground, machine harvesters travelling too fast at harvest, pre pruners moving too fast and tractor speeds that are too quick – all result in broken posts.
Replacement usually takes place over winter and early spring.
It is also a good time for running wires for foliage or to attach drip lines and fixing up broken wires and installing replacement staples that seem to regularly pop out of wood posts.
Drop the foliage wires and get them ready to lift around flowering.
Thinking about trellis – consider tightening the cordon wires at least once every few years to take up any slack that may have occurred due to crop load, wire stretching etc
This year it would appear – if weather forecasts can be believed – that spring will be damp (if not wet) so early applications of irrigation water around budburst and flowering will be unnecessary. However maybe an early nitrogen application could be useful in some situations
Checking the irrigation system operation is useful early to discover any problems and fix them prior to the major irrigation period.
This is a time to flush ends of laterals – especially if you have a bit of a hot period coming up.
5. Vineyard Development
So we did decide to plant a small patch of vines and after reading the WFA report on the state of the nation and now I am thinking I might have been a bit premature. The recently released WFA report into the wine industry is looking a tad negative – especially in the C & D grades. The A & B grades are looking positive however the requirement is limited unless our industry gets out and sells itself to the world – maybe it’s a glimmer of hope – maybe a re-invention of Aussie wines. If you get a chance read the WFA report – it’s on their web page – it is illuminating if not long winded.
So the new vineyard is getting ready for planting. I have a strong dislike for weeds – especially with young vines – so have levelled the rip rows after adding a range of soil amendments and have knocked down the regrowth. Next step is a residual herbicide and re-marking out the vineyard making it ready for planting.
So the pruning is over and tying up completed. For those of us who are a bit late with both these tasks – we are seeing bud movement and risk knocking off of a few of these new shoots. Asking the question is this a big issue? – a bit as each bud has a 2ndary and a tertiary bud each with less fruit than the previous and will burst a fraction later.
Try not to knock too many buds off!
7. Environmental Best Practice
Often I hear speakers at seminars and conferences talk about environment programmes that they are building for their vineyard.
Most often they rabbit on about this International programme or that Organic programme or (to be metaphysical) a variation of a bio-dynamic system.
I am then reminded about the work that was undertaken in Victoria in the Yarra Valley and the Grampians- Pyrenees Wine regions on their Regional Environmental Best Practices for Viticulture in 2005.
These best practice documents covered 11 chapters and a self assessment which, when completed, provide an excellent methodology for the processes necessary to manage your vineyard in a sustainable way.
So often we spend time re-inventing the “Wheel” – like goldfish we find every turn of the pond a new experience.
These best practice documents are complemented by the CRCV Viticare EMS project Environmental Best Management Practice Protocols.
The best practice and the best management protocol documents are available on the CRCV web page and well worth a look if what you want are good assessment tools to begin and maintain your vineyard to best management practices.
complete pruning and tying on
Apply herbicides or cultivate to control weeds undervine,
Slash mid row areas, headlands and waterways
Drop foliage wires
Look for pests and diseases – what does a “flag shoot’ look like:
Presence of snails, mites, LBAM, mark eutypa affected vines
Record phenology stages,
Use the time to work out what you need to do for the next week
for mite control and first powdery mildew spray. (the first 40 days from budburst is critical in the control of powdery – week 2, 4, 6, 8 applications from budburst)
flush lateral ends, maybe an early N application
no weed philosophy
grow guards installation
Thought for the Month.
I thought I would include part the WFA briefing paper on their recent expert review for your interest. Too often this information doesn’t get down to the people it really affects – this especially applies to the small winemaker and grapegrower.
. The wine industry is one of Australia’s most significant globally competitive industries, reflecting decades of investment, hard work and collaboration by winemakers, growers and others.
. However, in recent years we have been hit by a “perfect storm” that has impacted industry profitability and reduced asset values. If we don’t reverse this trend, the industry will not make the most of its opportunities and there could be continued adverse impacts on jobs and regional growth.
. As the industry’s peak body, WFA believes there are a number of Actions that can and should be taken to help secure the industry’s future.
. Based on its collective experience, the WFA Board has developed in consultation with a number of industry sources seven recommended Actions to industry. The aim of the Actions is to help the industry restore profitability and asset value. They are meant to complement
activities and decisions taken by individual companies in response to a challenging marketplace.
. The Actions cover:
– Growing demand for our wine, both domestically and internationally
– Hastening the correction to the supply base
– Working towards a fair and transparent domestic market
– Reforming the WET rebate
– Monitoring the future of wine tax policy
– Pro-actively engaging the wine and health debate, and
– Securing the funding to implement the Actions.
In terms of priorities, we believe that all these Actions need to be pursued now and quickly.
. WFA proposes to implement these Actions from November 2013. However, before it does so,it is asking you for assistance to review the analysis and Actions and provide input. Not only will this assist WFA to finalise the Actions, but it will promote a wider and we think healthy industry discussion on the issues we confront. It will enable WFA to move forward with implementing these Actions knowing they are being widely considered and we hope supported.
. In early 2013 WFA commissioned an independent expert review of wine industry dynamics and profitability. The aim was to continue to build a fact base for members and to support decision making.
. The WFA Board has also brought to bear its accumulated experience and other discussions and consultations with industry bodies and leaders to develop the Actions. The Expert Review has also been an important input to the Board’s consideration of the recommended Actions.
. The review built on previous industry work, notably Directions to 2025 and the Wine Restructuring Action Agenda, but is more wide-ranging and considered profitability, demand, the impact of market “distortions” such as taxation, exchange rates and retail consolidation, which previously have been considered in isolation.
. The work was carried out by independent consultant economists Centaurus Partners, with input from the WFA Board, WAC, GWRDC and WGGA and external specialists such as Nielsen and Finlaysons Lawyers. Funding was provided by the Wolf Blass Foundation and the GWRDC.
. The Review findings are:
– The Australian wine industry has tripled in size and been very successful at building export markets.
– Since 2007 the profitability of the Australian wine industry has declined significantly.
– This decline in profitability has been driven by a ‘perfect storm’ that has intensified
– Export returns have declined sharply
– Domestic margins have been squeezed by retailers, low-demand growth, and increased imports
– The decline and shift in export demand has created an ‘oversupply/under-demand’ of grapes and wine in certain quality segments.
– Efforts to improve profitability have, in many cases, only reduced the extent of the decline.
– There are foreseeable circumstances that would put further pressure on profitability.
– The other side of this ‘perfect storm’ is that no single lever will ‘fix’ the problem.
– The industry is not being impacted equally—some players/segments are more affected than others. There are a number of success models, and
– Wine tax has been an issue for the industry. The solution in the current environmentis relatively clear.
. We believe it is important that the Review be made available to our members, industry and our stakeholders. It is a valuable source of data, analysis and insight on the key issues.
1. Grow demand for our wine, both domestically and internationally
Outcome: To increase our relative market share in all major markets while performing as well as or better in each segment.
Summary of Actions
– Understand Consumer Preferences, particularly in the US
– Strengthen WAC – to rebuild operational capability and programmes
– Extend Export Market Development Grants
– Improve Market Access
– Execute a “Buy Australian First” campaign with the major liquor retailers
. Increasing the local and export opportunity for Australian wine is critical for the future profit growth of the industry.
. While individual companies will continue to lead these efforts, ongoing and adequately funded support from the Wine Australia Corporation also will be crucial.
. A broad range of tailored activities will be needed to rebuild support for Australian wine among consumers, distributors, commentators and other gatekeepers in key domestic and international
2. Hasten the supply correction
Outcome: Help reduce the oversupply of commercial grade grapes and the pricing distortion it creates throughout the industry.
Summary of Actions
– Improve Vineyard data to support decision making
– Review the need for further research on Vineyard Flexibility and Profit Improvement
– Support the Code of Conduct
– No Vine buyback
. The Expert Review estimates that a significant portion of total current production is uneconomic, spread across all regions.
. This low profitability is being driven by oversupply and under-demand in C and D grade grapes and wine, which has a distorting impact on the pricing of other grades.
. There is some evidence that market forces are addressing this supply-demand imbalance, but without further action this correction will be slow.
. WFA believes a number of steps can be taken to hasten the correction and bring supply into better balance with demand.
3. Work with the national wine retailers and competition regulator on fairness, transparency and equity in the domestic wine market.
Outcome: A more sustainable domestic marketplace for industry where companies can grow share through quality, innovation and investment.
– Collaborate on shared issues and build relationships
– Develop a Code of Conduct
– Assist retailers and members with concerns over unfair treatment
– Deal with Horizontal and Vertical Integration
– Engage the policy debate
– Further analysis on the wine market and competitiveness
. WFA acknowledges the work of retailers, particularly the national chains, in bringing Australian wine to Australian consumers.
. However, it believes there is scope for improving relationships to support a diverse industry and provide long-term benefits to consumers.
. WFA will seek to collaborate with the retail sector on shared issues and put in place a formal Code of Conduct to drive greater fairness and consistency across the supply chain.
. It also will continue to work with Government and regulators on the structure of wine markets and the likely impact of acquisitions by retail groups.
4. Reform the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate to support regional communities.
Outcome: To return eligibility for the rebate back to its original policy intent and to consider further reforms as industry conditions improve.
– Return eligibility to Original Policy Intent
– Abolish separate New Zealand rebate scheme
– New Policy Change – Mergers
– WET Rebate Review in 3 Years
– Standing Tax Task Force
. The WET rebate was originally intended to assist smaller producers to remain in business so that diversity in wine styles is maintained and the positive economic impact of wine enterprises in regional communities is secured.
. However, there is significant concern in the industry that the rebate has evolved well beyond its original policy intent and is being compromised by the ability of brokers, intermediaries and
foreign-based entities to access the entitlement.
. There is support and a case to immediately restrict the rebate to genuine producers who operate in and contribute to Australian regional communities, and exclude uncommercial arrangements,
“virtual” wineries and bulk and unbranded wine. We also believe we should abolish the separate NZ rebate scheme to ensure an equitable level of accountability among claimants and greater transparency.
. In summary, the recommended measures on the rebate are (as in the Actions paper):
4.1 In the short term, while legislative change takes place, WFA will work with the ATO to identify changes that can be made to tighten the interpretation of the existing provisions to bring them into line with the original intent.
4.2 Disallow the rebate for uncommercial arrangements (for example when the ATO forms the view that the growers/winemakers have split their activities with the substantial purpose of claiming multiple rebates).
4.3 Seek legislative change consistent with the original policy intent and limit WET rebate eligibility to producers which:
a) have Production Assets and,
b) manufacture and sell wine in a form that is packaged ready for sale to a consumer and where the finished product is identifiably that of the producer, or
c) grow grapes and sell the wine from those grapes in a form that is packaged ready for sale to a consumer and where the finished product is identifiably that of the producer.
Production Asset means a producer having a Substantial Investment in physical grape growing and wine production and making infrastructure and may include a cellar door open to the public, and other regional tourism infrastructure.
Substantial Investment means:
a) a real investment in the producer’s own facilities so that at least 70% of wine subject to rebate is processed in those facilities, or
b) investment in a real business of grape growing and wine making with investment in a cellar door open to the public or with investment in other wine tourism infrastructure or with substantial participation in the routine operations of the grape growing and winemaking business for at least 250 days per financial year.
4.4 Remove eligibility for the WET rebate from bulk, unpackaged and unbranded wine (including the private label of wholesalers and retailers) and from wine that is not a finished product fit for retail sale.
4.5 Remove the New Zealand WET rebate scheme.
4.6 Introduce transitional rebate measures to allow the second rebate on a merger to remain with the new entity but be phased out at 25% per year over 4 years. These transitional arrangements will be made available to the industry for up to 5 years from the date of implementation.
4.7 WFA will continue to analyse the WET rebate, the impact of the reform measures outlined above and undertake a formal review of WET rebate arrangements 3 years from implementation of the rebate reform measures. The review will consider next steps including keeping the rebate, further restricting rebate eligibility, reducing the claimable amount or abolishing the rebate altogether.
4.8 WFA will form a permanent industry taskforce in partnership with WGGA, the ATO and Federal Treasury on wine tax reform and implementation issues.
4.9 The ATO to reform rebate reporting requirements to capture an improved data set on the profile of claimants and rebatable wine.
. The consultation process will provide an opportunity for these issues to be highlighted and for further detail and insights to be brought forward as tax reform is notoriously difficult.
5. Monitor the future of wine tax arrangements in response to changing market conditions.
Outcome: Continue the examination of optimal taxation arrangements for industry to support growth and our licence to operate with the community.
. WFA does not believe that the industry should pursue a broader wine tax reform agenda at this time.
. However, it will continue to analyse proposals for future reform and model the commercial and community impacts of any proposed policy changes related to tax reform.
6. Proactively engage the Wine and Health debate to promote responsible consumption and ensure an appropriate regulatory framework for our Industry.
Outcome: To minimise harm to the community, promote the benefits of moderation and to shape the policy debate.
– Responsible Citizens – participate in pregnancy labelling and responsible winery initiatives
– Fact-Based Analysis – WFA is undertaking research into the benefits of moderate wine consumption and the price sensitivity of at-risk consumers
– Promote Moderation – join WFA to add your voice
. Given the current debate over alcohol consumption, a key risk to industry is ad hoc intervention by government, most likely in the form of an increase in wine tax
. There are a number of steps wine businesses can take to promote moderation and reduce this risk – notably by supporting WFA’s programs such as the Responsible Winery and Pregnancy Warning initiatives.
. Women and older Australians are a key focus, as they tend to favour wine.
. Meanwhile WFA will continue critical research into key policy issues such as the link between price and at-risk consumption and the health and social benefits of moderate drinking.
7. Secure the funding to support the recommended reform agenda in partnership with industry and Government.
Outcome: To fund the reform agenda.
– Secure funding to implement the Actions
. The Action Plan is comprehensive and will require funding beyond what can be provided by WFA and the other national industry bodies.
. WFA will pursue suitable funding sources once the Actions have been finalised and key stakeholders identified.
The Expert Review on the performance of the industry was undertaken over six months by independent economists Centaurus Partners and includes detailed analysis of demand, supply and market distortions.
The consultation period on the Actions and Expert Review will run until Friday 18 October 2013. The WFA Actions and Expert Review report, how to provide feedback and supporting documents can be found on the WFA website at www.wfa.org.au.
Now that was a bit serious – but well worth the read!
To your ongoing passion for viticulture.
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
Please forward this message to a friend if you have found it helpful.
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 Viticultural Services on request.