Busy summer time in Hawkes Bay

By Caine Thompson
Viticulturist, Mission Estate

The great weather continues in Hawkes Bay, with settled weather right through flowering and warm temperatures continuing through December and now into January.

The vines are well balanced, carrying moderate crops, and are advancing nicely as the season progresses.

There don’t seem to be any visual differences in canopy growth between the organic and conventional regimes. The Syrah is at full canopy height now and has had its first trim.

The Merlot is one wire lift away from the top wire, which will be lifted within the next week before trimming.

We have cultivated for weeds three times now and have also done one pass by hand to remove clumps that were starting to develop around plants and posts. This compares to just two herbicide applications so far this season, but another one will be applied in January.

We have applied Switch at 80% flowering in the conventional and Botryzen in the organic blocks for botrytis control. At this stage we have seen no signs of powdery or downy mildew, which we have been controlling with sulphur and the occasional copper application.

Leaf plucking is just beginning in the Syrah with 80% of leaves being removed around the bunch zone. This will also be the strategy for the Merlot before we adjust crop through fruit thinning for targeted product ranges.

After leaf plucking has been completed we will be using Gem on the conventional blocks at pre bunch closure and MIDI-Zen will be used on the organic blocks.

It is a very busy time in the vineyard at this time of year. Our vineyard team is looking forward to when all the wires are up, blocks are leaf-plucked, trimmed and PBC sprays applied, as we then wait for the start of veraison!

Merlot: organic on left, conventional on right, 8 Jan 2013