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Photo: Ewen Bell / Wine Australia
Photo: Ewen Bell / Wine Australia
09 Mar 2018
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Wine Tasmania’s strong focus on practical issues in its Regional Program continues, with a busy 2017–18 program that has so far included everything from a Bud Dissection Hour to a Green Diseases Workshop.

‘There is an enormous amount of important research being done on issues of priority and relevance to Tasmania and we want to ensure that this is being disseminated in the best way possible’, said Technical and Extension Officer Paul Smart.

‘We aim to run really focused sessions and, where possible, to have the researchers themselves present their findings and talk to local growers and winemakers about things that are affecting them.’

- Paul Smart

There is no better example than the Smoke Taint and Bushfire Risk Management Workshop that kicked off the 2017 program. Wine Tasmania worked with the Tasmania Fire Service’s Fuel Reduction Program to present the latest research on smoke taint in wine and the risk from bushfire and fuel reduction burning. Included was an informal tasting of smoke-tainted and non-smoke-tainted trial wine.

The Bud Dissection Hour was even more hands-on. Growers were invited into the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture’s Mt Pleasant and Sandy Bay campuses to count the number of inflorescence primordia in their own lignified buds.

‘The aim was to help them determine how many nodes to leave at pruning to achieve their yield targets’, Paul said. ‘By conducting informed pruning over winter, growers can potentially avoid a reduction in yield this year, due to last season's poor flowering event.’

A Linking Soils to Irrigation Workshop focused on helping growers understand their soil type and how and when to apply irrigation during the season, and gain the latest insights into recent water monitoring technologies and theories.

The Green Diseases Workshop was presented to acknowledge that Tasmania has one of the most challenging cooler climates in Australia and has a greater risk for powdery mildew along with increasing pressure of downy mildew due to changing climates. 

A range of speakers presented technical, practical and local information then each participant had a one-on-one session with Paul to go through their spray program and sprayer set up to discuss any issues.

The 2018 year began with two Spray Application Workshops in January, at which Dr Andrew Hewitt from the University of Queensland presented the latest research from two Wine Australia projects  (UQ 1601 and UQ 1201) on spray application in vineyards and a local grower talked about how he manages spray application.

These sessions were designed to create awareness of how spray moves through canopies, and how coverage can be measured. Participants even took an evening walk in the vineyards to see the different speeds, pressures and application rates of sprayers in action using fluorescent dyes, a full vine canopy and UV lights.

Fluorescent dye on grapevines
Image credit: Image supplied

‘We are always looking at delivering information in ways that provide maximum benefit to growers and have just begun presenting one-on-one interactive sessions, delivered onsite, providing the latest information from the Tasmanian Yield Research Project’, Paul said.

‘These visits are an alternative to the traditional group workshops and give the opportunity for growers to get tailored advice on their particular issues.’

Still to come in 2018 are a presentation of a one-year-old under vine cover crop trial, a mechanical pruning technology workshop, a Yield Project Members Symposium and the annual Field Day, titled Meeting the Coolest Challenge, which will concentrate on how producers can best meet the unique challenges of growing grapes in Tasmania’s cool climate with high demand.

New this year are the VinØ Forum, at which Wine Tasmania members will receive the latest information about sustainability, and the inaugural Winemakers Symposium.

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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.