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Riverina focuses on practical advice

12 Feb 2016
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Ongoing education and practical advice for growers remains the focus of research activity in the Riverina region.

With funding from Wine Australia’s Regional Program, the Riverina Wine Grapes Marketing Board (RWGMB) is managing five projects during 2015–16 designed to test or demonstrate techniques to suit local conditions. Two are now into their third year and producing valuable results.

The final data is being collected this vintage from demonstration blocks in Yenda and Hanwood to test the value of Brassica biofumigation for managing root rot in vineyards.

Preliminary results indicate that growing mustard plants mid-row and then slashing the material to sweep it under vine is the most effective approach in terms of improving vine growth and yield. Seed meals are also beneficial, but the impact is not as significant.

Further analysis of pruning weights and study of the levels of soil pathogens and nematodes in the vineyard after the application will be undertaken in the coming months.

Vine growth and yield are also central to the region’s second project, which is demonstrating the value of precision viticulture imagery and techniques in managing vineyard variability.

‘We are using satellite images to work out how different levels of vigour correlate to different levels of maturity and grape quality’, said RWGMB Industry Development Officer Kristy Bartrop. ‘While the concept may seem obvious, it allows us to put numbers on things and relate the concept to an individual’s vineyards.’

On-the-farm testing shows a grower that, for example, the grapes from a high vigour area come back with a certain result and from the lower vigour area with another result and that there is a significant difference in colour.

The grower can then look and decide to try to get an even vineyard with even quality. This might be via a little less canopy, or managing water or nutrient regimes a little differently.

The RWGMB has also established a trunk disease demonstration site and a mid-row demonstration block to provide information direct to growers.

The mid-row site at McWilliams Wines is being replanted this autumn after the original site was dug up to make way for a different winery project. It will show how a variety of mid-row crops establish themselves in the Riverina climate and how well perennials re-establish.

At the trunk disease trial site, an affected vineyard has been cut back to test how long it is until there is a return to full production and how effective this in dealing with trunk disease.

‘We have done this in the same way that local producers would do it’, Kristy said. ‘It is a demonstration site appropriate to the way we farm. It’s not a research trial with all different heights. They are all done to the one height.’

The final Regional Program project is a weed control workshop scheduled for May. Former local Chris Preston will return to talk about resistance problems and how to manage hard-to-kill weeds.

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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.