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Peace of mind for vineyard managers over Christmas | Vine Talk

In this Vine Talk, Syngenta Technical Services Lead Scott Mathew explains the cornerstones of being prepared for the Christmas break.
Don't let Christmas spoil your hard work.

By Scott Mathew

While every vineyard will have its own unique challenges and distinct objectives, a common management issue over the next month will be staff taking time off for holidays.

This can allow for pest and disease-causing organisms, which don’t take holidays, to invade. It is best to be prepared!

Powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis are the main diseases of concern, so protection of your grapevines from these diseases really needs to cover the holiday period.

The best-case scenario is to apply fungicides in the week before Christmas which can cover the holiday period. Particular attention needs to be paid to varieties that are vulnerable to any of these diseases.

Use products that are rainfast and will not wash off, so you do not have to reapply to ensure your vines are protected. Premium systemic fungicides that work inside the vine are great choices. Check that the length of protection extends the holiday period, so you have peace of mind. There are many fungicides that will give 10 to 14 days of residual activity.

If you need to, pull the spray schedule forward as it’s better to spray early rather than later. Spraying after the holidays may leave a significant gap in the protection program.

Choose products that conform to AWRI withholding periods and any winery restrictions for residues and MRL’s.

In some areas like the Riverland, Sunraysia, Griffith and upper Hunter Valley, vines are more advanced, and early maturing varieties like Chardonnay may be getting close to the growth stage cut off period for many products. After this, your product choice may be limited.

Later growing regions such as the lower South West of WA, Adelaide Hills, Yarra Valley and Tasmania that are harvesting grapes in March/April may have vines edging towards bunch closure.

SWITCH® fungicide for botrytis control is a popular choice in these areas because it is completely rainfast and won’t wash off. A reminder though, SWITCH can only be sprayed up to EL29, which is prior to bunch closure. This stage really is the last and best opportunity to get a good premium fungicide onto the vines and into the centre of the bunch.

If you take note of these points and are prepared, you too can enjoy some time off over the coming holiday period with peace of mind knowing that your grapevines are protected.