Niagara’s grape growers are facing a unique set of challenges this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Jim Willwerth, senior scientist at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), recently partnered with the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) to host a webinar on the “Economics of Crop Management during COVID-19.”
“I am glad to be able to provide support to the grape growers by discussing crop management and ways to improve efficiency in the vineyard during this challenging time,” says Willwerth.
The immediate challenge lies in safely and cost-effectively completing critical spring vineyard work while also adapting to new physical distancing protocols. With many operations already working on tight margins, growers have to determine what key vineyard practices need to be maintained — and which can be scaled back, delayed, or forgone altogether to cut costs. And, as grape vines are perennial plants, Willwerth says those decisions are crucial not only to this year’s harvest, but to future harvests, as well.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s important to ask questions about your vineyard and the individual block within them,” he says.
Willwerth suggests that growers focus on their best vineyard blocks and aim to reduce labour-intensive activities such as manual leaf removal and use more mechanization where possible.
Integrated pest management is still critical, he stresses, as is completing major canopy and crop management tasks. Pruning, tying, trunk replacement and other winter injury mitigation is also important, as is training young vines to prepare for the growing seasons to come.
See link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IyGEwR-J9w&feature=youtu.be
Source: Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute May 6, 2020 news release