Flowering, sprays & canopy management

By Caine Thompson, Viticulturist, Mission Estate

As Christmas approaches and a start of another New Year, we look forward optimistically to a warm, fine settled summer period ahead.

We find that our season is still a little behind where we are in a typical season as fruit begins to set on our Merlot and Syrah blocks.

Fruit set looks average which means that bunches will be fairly open, which should assist with botrytis control later in the season.

Spray program

Over the previous month we have had significant wet weather periods during the flowering period. For our botrytis program over this period, in the conventional programs we applied a Switch at the end of flowering, while in the organic blocks we applied Botryzen at the end of flowering as well.

In the conventional program we have used Systhane and Diathane for powdery and downy mildew control at late flowering.

In the organic program we have used sulphur and copper for powdery and downy mildew.

Canopy management to date

In terms of canopy management we have a combination of cane pruned and spur pruned vines within varying zones in the vineyard.

       All cane pruned vines have been shoot thinned, removing double shoots and shoots coming from underneath and where they cross at ends.

       On the spur pruned vines we have left two shoots per spur.

       We have used the collard leaf plucker to leaf pluck and also to remove caps from the bunches, which we believe assists with late season botrytis control

       We have tucked five times to date to keep the canopy upright, growing vertically.

       Early in the new year we will be removing 100% of the leaves around the bunch zone.

Cultivation

We are currently completing our third pass of cultivation in the organic blocks. On this pass we are finding the soil is very friable which is making very short work of any weeds in the undervine area.

We are operating at about 4.5km per hour with staff now very confident and competent with this piece of equipment.

It is a very busy time in the vineyard pre this Xmas period with canopy work, spraying and cultivating all being required in the month of December. We’re certainly looking forward to January as we reach full canopy height and hopefully a hot settled summer!

Syrah on Dec 21st: conventional on left, organic on right