Steady summer in Hawkes Bay

By Caine Thompson
Viticulturist, Mission Estate

The January period has remained warm and dry, with one of the best summers the region has experienced in some time. All of the Merlot and Syrah has been lifted to its final position and all wires clipped together to hold the canopy together. Leaf plucking of the Merlot and Syrah has occurred with 80% removal of leaves in the bunch zone removed across all treatments.

BotryZen has been applied to the bunch zone in the organic blocks at pre bunch closure and an application of Gem to the conventional blocks.

The bunches have filled in very well and yields look moderate to high in terms of crop load per vine. As a result we have thinned both the Merlot and Syrah to desired levels to achieve more balance in the vines.

We have just completed what we hope is our last cultivation pass and last herbicide application for the season and have gained very good control of weeds this season (the dry weather has helped!).

Veraison has also just begun in both the Merlot and the Syrah and both look to be progressing at a similar rate. In the next week we will be netting both blocks to keep the birds at bay. The blocks are well set up and we are hopeful that this spell of weather continues for some time.

For the remainder of February we will be doing a colour thin to take out any late fruit to ensure even ripening across all blocks. We will also be monitoring weather conditions very closely, and we will apply late season products if necessary before an infection period occurs to keep botrytis and downy mildew at bay.

Syrah: conventional row on left, organic on right

Syrah: conventional row on left, organic on right

Merlot: organic on left, conventional on right

Merlot: organic on left, conventional on right