Our recent visit to the SITEVI exhibition in Montpellier was to find a better system of frost protection than the ones we are used to in the UK. Happily we seem to have found the answer.
Bordeaux growers have been plagued with late frosts and thereby devastating losses in recent years and so they teamed up with a local heating specialist company to produce the VentiGel. In the last two years they have produced 150 working units mainly for the Medoc and Saint Emilion areas. The electric fan should be switched on some hours before the frost period in order to blow away moisture laden air which would otherwise condense and freeze the buds. As the temperature drops hot air can be introduced into the airflow. An area of between two to three hectares can be covered with one machine. The fan on top of the tower can be rotated up to 360 degrees and the unit can be easily moved between the rows and placed in the best position thanks to its tractor mounting hitch.
The unit can be powered directly from a three phase source via a long cable, by a separate generator or tractor driven generator. The consumption of electricity is a few pounds per night for the fan and the diesel use for heating is 11 litres per hour. Compared to other methods this is most attractive. Working closely with the manufacturer Vitifruit Equipment hope to have a unit to show in the UK in spring 2024.
More details on www.ventigel.fr