Chris Cooper and Rob Saunders, vine specialists in the Hutchinsons Horticultural team, discuss the season to date in vineyards.

September brings the usual autumnal issues with pests such as wasps and hornets with many growers employing a “monitoring” control method, (normally at the end of rows) to restrict wasp and hornet damage, and there are lots about. Bird scarers (in their many forms) are also being deployed unless netting has been used. When using bird scarers it is important to vary the type used and their position in the field to prevent birds getting familiar with them. Recently another pest, Spotted Winged Drosophila (SWD), has been found in soft fruit crops including grapes. Rob will be giving a presentation on this pest at the Viticulture Technical Conference at Denbies Wine Estate on 22 November explaining the importance of monitoring and how the newly approved (by EAMU) product Exirel (cyantranilipole) from FMC has slotted into the management strategy.

Powdery mildew has been seen in some vineyards and like Downy mildew it is important not to let this get out of control as the crop next year will also suffer. There are products and stratagems that need to be deployed to reduce infection and carryover. As there have been episodes of heavy rain Botrytis is likely to occur, the control product will be determined on the Harvest Interval available, the short harvest interval products such as Prestop, Serenade and Amylo X all have organic approvals.

Using crop protection products for late infestations of pests and diseases, it is important to keep in touch with the wine maker regarding picking dates and pressing slots, particularly around sulphur usage, and adhering to harvest intervals.

Germany started harvesting on 6 August, their earliest on record; France are likely to have an increased yield of about 7% over a five year average despite hail and mildew and the UK are now well into harvest with the expectation of the biggest crop on record partly due to the increased area grown but also ideal growing conditions and good vineyard management. According to WineGB, last year in the UK we produced 5.9 million bottles of wine, with 4 million sparkling and 1.9 million still, there will be a significant increase on that this season, fingers crossed!