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The River News, Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 9
In a world of information ‘super
highways’, massive data repositories
(residing in ‘the cloud’) and Google
churning out multiple answers on
every imaginable topic, it is no
surprise that most people take
it for granted that information
and answers will be available on
demand, as is often the case.
The great majority trust the
accuracy of the information and
reasonably expect it can and will
be used fairly and honestly to guide
decision-making in almost every
aspect of life.
Over the past decade or so,
South Australian grape growers have
become accustomed to reading the
data published by the Phylloxera
Board in July/August each year,
outlining the calculated average
purchase value (CAPV) of grapes
purchased in the previous vintage
by variety and by region.
Other states and regions have
their own ways and means of
estimating similar average values, but
that is all these are – average values.
In SA these CAPVs are derived
from data provided by wineries in
response to an annual survey.
It is not compulsory and in many
cases the data submitted is not the
final price including bonuses, but
rather an offer price or something
Most growers are satisfied that
the data is reasonably accurate,
and there is a general belief that it
is good to be able to review one’s
own achievements relative to the
For many, it is the only feedback
they receive for their efforts.
Well gone are the days of post-
vintage presentations when growers
might be told which wine their
There is growing concern,
however, that these published
average prices are being widely used
as a basis for setting the following
In conversations around the
region between growers and
wineries this year, in the lead-up
to the announcement of indicative
prices prior to December 15, there
has been much reference to last
There have been suggestions
that particular wineries have paid
above the odds compared to other
wineries, with the strong implication
that this year’s vineyard inputs and
achievements are not as relevant as
last year’s prices.
Surely in 2015 vintage prices
should be determined by many
factors other than the calculated
average prices others may have
paid for grapes of similar standard
in previous vintages.
There is ample data available
on the information ‘super highways’
regarding what is in stock, what has
been produced in other countries,
the impact of exchange rates and
free trade agreements.
There should and could be much
more accurate indicators in terms of
forecast yields if stakeholders really
desired to improve the system.
For an industry as sophisticated
as the wine industry, there must
be more modern-day methods
of developing price signals that
motivate and encourage, rather than
referencing last year’s averages and
what competitors allegedly paid.
We all know what that leads to.
Some growers are of the view
that publishing CAPVs is not helpful.
It appears to be discouraging best
The crucial need for sustainability
up and down the value chain is often
and earnestly spoken about.
Implementing the theory seems
much more challenging.
It might be time to have the
conversation about whether
the industry would be better off
reverting to the practices of our
grandparents – when growers and
winemakers would talk with each
other about their respective needs
and capabilities, agree on a few
targets, shake hands and get on
with producing grapes and wine to
meet the needs of each other and
the needs of wine consumers in
If you have a view on this topic,
please contact Riverland Wine
(8584 5816) or email Chris Byrne
that the matter can be discussed
at regional level and, if need be,
with the Phylloxera Board and other
NOW IS THE TIME TO...
Focus on irrigation management.
Vines have now completed
flowering, and most should have
adequate canopies to ripen the crop
load that has been set.
Further canopy growth from
this point is considered by some to
be counter-productive because it
requires higher levels of inputs of
water and fertiliser, but also higher
management inputs of trimming
Irrigation management from
this point on should be targeted at
allowing the vine crops to grow and
ripen. That means enough water
to maintain photosynthesis, and
enough transpiration to cope with
warmer weather events.
For reds, that equates to just
enough irrigation to maintain vine
function and protect it from heat
events, but not so much that it
continues to grow more canopies
that need to be trimmed off.
Tendrils should be starting to
drop from this point, and growing
tips should be stalling.
Some whites require slightly
more soil water potential to continue
cell division in berries, but the risk
for tighter bunches later on is that
they may be at risk of bunch rot,
especially in sauvignon blanc.
Now is also the time to continue
with your disease monitoring and
Before you next spray, take the
time to walk through your vineyard
and get inside the canopies to have
a look for disease.
Find out if you need to adjust
your program before it is too late
and bunches close. Controlling
disease in closed bunches is nearly
We are near the time when
berries are becoming resistant to
disease, but this does not mean they
magically throw off any disease that
is already present. It means they are
resistant to new disease infection
from germinating spores.
Your best defences against most
diseases is UV light and airflow, so
maintaining canopies with dappled
light will make it easier to control
disease than canopies that are
dense and layered.
Citrus Australia - SA Regional Wrap
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSURANCE IN
The notion of ‘clean’ and ‘green’ has been
used successfully to market Australian produce.
Existing mandatory food safety programs clearly
justify the ‘clean’ label.
Complemented by environmental
management systems, industries’ ‘green’
credentials are also proven.
Horticulture Australia’s Horticulture for
Tomorrow program is responsible for the
development of resources and tools created
specifically for growers to enhance an
Horticulture for Tomorrow recently launched a
revised edition of the Guidelines for Environmental
Assurance in Australian Horticulture.
The guide provides a mechanism for growers
to assess their level of environmental credentials
and develop pathways for on-farm environmental
processes, prepare for a changeable climate and
Beyond this, it provides an excellent source
of best management practices useful for daily
It provides specific techniques, operational
practices and industry guidelines for establishing,
achieving and reviewing best production methods
and management of resources within a business.
The main working chapters include
management of: soil and land; water; chemicals;
nutrients; biodiversity; waste; air and energy and
The guidelines also provide information on
legislation requirements, potential impact of
climate change, risk assessments, monitoring
and recording options, a review check-list,
references and further resources.
The review checklist is a sound document that
identifies priority areas significant to each input,
allowing exploration of management options.
environmental-assurance-guidelines (12.2 MB
PDF) to download Guidelines for Environmental
Assurance in Australian Horticulture.
BIOSECURITY GATE SIGNS
Contact your packer to receive your free
biosecurity gate sign.
These signs are proudly sponsored by Plant
Health Australia, Biosecurity SA PIRSA and CASAR.
REMINDER: AUSTRALIAN CITRUS TO
KOREA, CHINA AND THAILAND
Preparation of orchards intending on
registering for export to Korea, China and Thailand
(KCT) this coming season starts in December.
All growers must implement an integrated pest
management (IPM) program. Requirements from
now until harvest are:
Knowledge of the pests and diseases of
concern. Fuller’s rose weevil (FRW) is the main
pest of concern for all markets.
Monthly monitoring and recording of the
results for critical pests of concern and other
pests (pest must be listed on records), including
the use of beat mats.
Trees must be skirted at least 50cm from
Weed control and orchard hygiene must
Evidence of biological or chemical controls
must be documented.
All new orchards must be surveyed to
determine the status of FRW prior to entering
the program. Orchards with a FRW history must
implement the Skirting and Weed Control and
Trunk Band Spraying program.
The Australian citrus protocols to Korea,
China and Thailand integrated pest management
and packing house controls can be sourced from
www.citrusaustralia.com.au or your GLO.
OIL SPRAYS ARE VITAL
Oil sprays are a key component of IMP
programs and play a vital role in the suppression
of mealy bug and ensuring red scale is kept at nil
to low levels for export programs.
If not applied already, plan to do so as soon
as possible, unless specifically advised otherwise
from a professional service provider.
SUMMER GA APPLICATIONS
The benefits and effects of a GA application
in December/January include:
Reduces the incidence of albedo breakdown
(creasing) and delays its development.
Enhances firmness of the rind.
Improves fruit quality and extends post-
harvest shelf life by reducing fruit susceptibility
Application: Summer GA sprays will not affect
rind colour at harvest if applied when the majority
of fruit are between 30mm and 50mm in size.
pH 4.0 to 4.5. Re-check after mixing well
Apply during the cool of the morning or only
after irrigation in the afternoon.
Ensure good coverage and canopy
Apply GA three to four weeks after an oil
Application, timing and concentration of
GA to extend the harvest will be discussed in a
few months’ time.
GA Application timing based on intended
harvest dates or albedo history (see table).
NUTRITION FOR NOV./DEC.
Apply 25 per cent of annual nitrogen in
November after fruit set and at the end of the
vegetative growth flush.
Calcium nitrate is preferred to ammonium
nitrate and urea, as these forms of nitrogen
compete with the uptake of calcium.
If fertigating, apply the remaining
phosphorous (50 per cent) at monthly intervals
from October onwards.
Ensure adequate supply of calcium to
reduce albedo breakdown.
Apply 30-50 per cent annual potassium
after fruit reaches 10mm in size.
Apply foliar micro-nutrient sprays of
magnesium, manganese and zinc as needed.
According to overseas experience, foliar
sprays of potassium phosphite or MAP and
potassium nitrate in November improve fruit size.
Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium:
Do not over stimulate trees during this period,
because any growth flush will compete with the
fruitlets and will result in poor fruit set.
Just enough nutrients are needed to maintain
It is preferable to apply nitrogen (25 per
cent) at the end of the vegetative growth flush
in November, especially if trees are well fed
with nitrogen in previous stages. The rest of the
nitrogen can be applied in January.
The ideal source of nitrogen at this time of
year is calcium nitrate, but other forms of nitrogen
can be used.
Potassium (30 per cent) can be applied after
fruit set (10mm size). The rest of the potassium
should be applied in December and at the end of
January, when it is required for cell enlargement.
Calcium: During this period calcium is
important to reduce albedo breakdown.
Nitrogen applications should be kept to a
minimum as it competes with the uptake of
calcium, especially the ammonium nitrate and
urea forms (which need to be converted to
Other: Magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorous
and potassium all compete with the uptake of
calcium, and the application of these fertilisers
should therefore be closely related to leaf
analysis and should not be over supplied in the
cell division stage.
Weak trees or those showing yellowing should
receive a foliar application of low biuret urea, zinc
and manganese sulphate.
Iron chelates may be needed especially
in calcareous and high pH soils or in very wet
New set of
A NEW set of tests to measure soil health is
being developed to help grain growers better
plan and manage their cropping programs.
Research funded by the Grains Research and
Development Corporation (GRDC) through its
Soil Biology Initiative II is aiming to produce a
testing system that uses free-living nematodes as
an indicator of a soil’s health.
South Australian Research and Development
Institute (SARDI) researchers have developed a
suite of DNA tests that can detect and quantify the
major free-living nematode groups in Australian
“Nematodes can act as indicators of the soil
microbial community to give us a snapshot of the
degree of the soil’s structure and enrichment,” said
SARDI senior research officer Katherine Linsell.
“Most growers know that nematodes are
important pests of cereal crops, but are probably
not aware that soils also contain non-parasitic
“These are known as free-living nematodes, and
they provide a wealth of information on a soil’s
biological status and are therefore useful indicators
of soil health.”
Dr Linsell said a healthy soil that is enriched
and well structured will have an abundant and
diverse range of free-living nematodes, along with a
good balance between bacterial and fungal feeders,
and will also contain omnivorous and predatory
“But the problem with using nematodes
as soil health indicators is that microscopic
characterisation of free-living nematodes is time
consuming and requires specialised taxonomic
expertise which only a handful of people have
worldwide,” she said.
“That means only small numbers of samples
can be assessed.
“In order to use free-living nematodes as soil
health indicators on a large scale and routinely, we
need to use technology that can detect and quantify
free-living nematodes quickly and robustly. “
For more information, visit: www.grdc.com.au/
KATHERINE Linsell from the South Australian
Research and Development Institute is leading a
team of researchers that has developed new tests
for cropping soils.
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