Grape growers battling to keep vines disease-free

Last updated 12:00 16/01/2013

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The hot, humid weather in wider Manawatu has been hard on gardeners and grape growers as they battle fungi and bacteria in an effort to keep plants free of diseases.

Rangitikei Pheasant Creek vineyard owner Shane Parlato said the weather had caused him to start plucking leaves from his vines.

"Five people spent a day trying to get on top of the growth. And we spent three days last week, leaf plucking the whole block to open up the fruit to the air and light to ease potential disease pressure," Mr Parlato said.

He said they trimmed and sprayed the 2500 vines - chardonnay, pinot noir and riesling in a block of 1.4 hectares.

The diseases he was watching out for included powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis.

Mr Parlato said late frosts in November killed some vines, and damaged others, and now they were dealing with disease.

But he said some grapes, especially the pinot noir, were ripening faster than usual.

"That will allow us to catch up a bit because of the slow start and frost damage, but we'll definitely have a lighter crop."

Pohangina Valley Estate co-owner Nick Dymock said wind had helped at his vineyard. He said the summer heat had so far been good for grape vines and they were looking good. He said his vineyard would pluck the leaves before harvest, but had not needed to yet, to get air and sun to the grapes.

"But there's a long time to go yet until we harvest. An Indian summer [late summer] suits the grapes best. But maturity is looking good."

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- Manawatu Standard


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