RUNNING a vineyard during sweltering heatwaves is the focus of a new project to better understand vine stress, and how to make better management decisions.
Department of Primary Industries, Wine Australia and Riverina Wine Grapes Marketing Board project is exploring the potential of new technology to inform irrigation decisions which could help better manage grapevines in the heat.
“We are monitoring vine stress in Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay varieties at temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius and higher,” NSW DPI viticultural development officer, Adrian Englefield, said
Mr Englefield said new sap flow meters and dendrometers have been installed at two Riverina vineyards, in partnership with Edaphic Scientific.
“Generally sap flow is highest during the day when plants are actively transpiring and minimal at night when little or no transpiration occurs.”
“We are measuring sap flow trends and comparing them during the growing season.
“Any reductions in sap flow during extreme weather events, compared with baseline measurements, can indicate vine stress.
“Dendrometers measure tiny changes in trunk diameter - a healthy vine has a smooth dendrometer cycle where trunks expand during the day and shrink at night when transpiration has ceased.”
Coupled with soil moisture information, canopy temperature and humidity sensors, the pilot project aims to monitor vine stress under different irrigation schedules during the hot summer months.
Also as part of Wine Australia’s Regional Program in the Riverina, DPI has run grower workshops exploring management options and technologies which are available to mitigate extreme heatwave events
A one-hectare planting of 40 new varieties went in on December 19, just six days after Wine Australia and the CSIRO signed a $37-million co-investment agreement.
NSW Primary Industries Department is partnering CSIRO throughout the trial.
Meanwhile, the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre has welcomed the appointment of its new director, Professor Leigh Schmidtke.
The National Wine and Grape Industry Centre is an alliance between Charles Sturt University, DPI and the NSW Wine Industry Association.
“I’m really very pleased to have been appointed to this position and look forward to building on the success of the Centre to date,” Professor Schmidtke said.
“Charles Sturt University has a proud history of wine production, vineyard management and award-winning wines, so it’s also an added asset for the Centre to have the Cellar Door located on campus in Wagga Wagga.”
Professor Schmidtke career has included time as an Associate Professor in wine science at CSU, a chemist/microbiologist with Southcorp Wines, an Associate lecturer in microbiology with the University of Tasmania, and a microbiologist with DPI.