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Photo: Ian Routledge / Wine Australia

Collaboration the key to success for SA Central growers

Photo: Ian Routledge / Wine Australia
07 Sep 2018
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Take one growing region and a single grape variety. Add four vineyards, four management practices and four sub-areas and what do you get?

A collaboration that brings valuable knowledge sharing to a wide cross-section of growers.

The ‘Focus Vineyards’ has been a key project for Wine Australia’s Regional Program in SA Central this year. Driven by McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism, the project features organic, conventional, low-input conventional and biodynamic vineyards.

Lian Jaensch, the Executive Officer for Langhorne Creek Grape and Wine, said grower sessions were practical, visual and hands-on – and had been well attended and received by growers.

‘The aim is to create a space where growers can get together to talk about key issues they are facing in the region and collaborate on potential solutions. 

‘Growers benefit from shared learning, access to expertise and live extension of CropWatch issues. Importantly, the project is also creating a sort of local Alumni of interested and engaged growers’, she said.

SA Central is currently running a number of other projects, including the following.

Managing variability in Malbec

Malbec is notorious for having highly variable yield and fruit set between seasons. In Langhorne Creek, the Regional Program is extending a project looking at the potential to manage yield in Malbec by employing late pruning techniques to shift bud burst, reduce vigour and improve bud fruitfulness. The 2018–19 activity proposes to continue the pruning treatment work and assessments. It will also include some small wine trials to look at resultant wine characteristics.

The soft pruning workshop

Being challenged to ‘think outside the square’ when pruning was the focus of SA Central’s annual Viticulture Innovation Day, held in July. SA Central hosted the ‘pruning guys’ Simonit & Sirch across two field demonstration days in McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek. Growers were shown the ‘soft pruning’ method, which considers an understanding of vine architecture and unrestricted flow of water and nutrients when making pruning cut decisions. The program also included attention to trunk disease management, virus in vineyards and an overview of the Malbec pruning trials.

Trialling the Platfarm app

A trial of the Platfarm app was launched at a grower field day event at Langhorne Creek on 31 August. The trial consists of two elements. The main element is variable compost spreading over a pre-mapped Malbec block using the Platfarm tool. The pre-mapping consists of EM38 profiling as well as in-field targeted soil core sampling along with plant density (vigour) mapping. This will inform the compost application rates across the vineyard as it is applied. The vineyard will then be monitored for improvements in uniformity and cost effectiveness of the application. The second element is to set up a small mulch and compost comparison trial area in another block. This has the purpose of evaluating longevity of products along with the impact on some base soil health measures over time.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.