Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Bushfire Post Drive: Pinery Fires

Bushfire Relief: Post Drive.

Our thoughts are with everyone facing the Pinery bushfires near Kapunda. We are now preparing fencing post aid based on previous efforts. 

Once the fires are out and the sites are safe we will set up depots where affected can pick up posts. Also the Blaze Aid initiative will also offer these as a resource once established.
You can help!

In the wine regions we are working to bundle broken vineyard posts (six good feet left in them).

Do you have bundled posts ready for transport? If not can you get them bundled?

Do you have transport? We will need some trucks once we have safe depots.

We are endeavouring to contact our colleagues in Kapunda we are still working out a few logistical issues but if you could put this offer "out there" for farmers, graziers, etc in need, please have them email James Hook at DJ’s : to register their need.

Ask them to write “posts” in the subject line so James can track and respond to them efficiently. Please forward this message on.

Derek, James, Dudley & the team at DJ's.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rust Mite - Sprays - UPDATE 19/8/2015

Michael asks DJ's; 

When should Rust Mite sprays be applied?

Rust Mite levels were seen to be significant in some vineyards last season. Rust mite are microscopic mites that enter into grapevine buds during early spring and affect the growth of early season shoots.

The significant level of Rust Mite’s last spring has made us re-think our recommendation regarding Rust Mite control. It is likely that a high percentage of vineyards monitored last season will benefit from a controlling sulphur spray.

We have been advising our clients regarding whether they should apply a controlling sulphur spray, or not for this season. If you would like specific advise please contact DJ’s.

Recommendations for prevention of Rust Mite symptoms are:

Rust Mite symptoms in spring.
Stunted & uneven shoot growth.
• Application of wettable sulphur @ 500g/100lt (include non ionic wetter at label rate if not adding oil).

• Water rates of 600 – 900 lt of water per hectare - do not use less than 500 lt/ha
- increased water rate should be used if worried about coverage.

• Make sure coverage of the cordon and all spur wood is thorough.

• Inclusion of Canola oil or Mineral oil at 2% (2lt per 100 lt) may improve control (10-15%) but should only be applied if the variety being sprayed is fully dormant (eg. Cabernet). Need to be aware that some Canola oils may contain GMO’s.

• A period of 2-3 fine days and 15 degrees C or higher on the day of spraying is ideal.

• Chardonnay is the indicator variety for timing of spraying in each region. Spraying should be done on all varieties when Chardonnay reaches 10% green tip (ie most buds woolly bud). Look for services like McLaren Vale CropWatch to advise of this timing.

McLaren Vale - Valley Floor.

Our feelings are that spraying should occur from the last week of August to the end of the second week of September on all varieties/blocks that require rust mite treatment.

Currency Creek.

Spraying should occur from the last week of August to the end of the second week of September on all varieties/blocks that require rust mite treatment.

Blewitt Springs & Clarendon.

Spraying should occur from the first week of September to the end of the third week of September on all varieties/blocks that require rust mite treatment.

Adelaide Hills.

Mid-September through to the end of September. To get ideal timing find a block of Chardonnay in within your mesoclimate for exact timing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Guildford Grass control in pasture.

Onion or Guildford Grass (Romulea rosea).
A question we get from time to time is how to control Onion or Guildford Grass (Romulea rosea) in pasture:

Note: this is not the same as Onion weed or Nut Grass (rarely seen in pasture, mainly undervine).  

Onion grass is a perennial herb with distinctive growth behavior. It looks like a grass, grows like an annual, and can spread rapidly . The plant not only produces abundant seed, but also corms underground to survive the hot and dry summers in Mediterranean environments of temperate Australia.

Originated from South Africa.Generally found in areas with low competition from other perennial plants due to low fertility, overgrazing, fire or poor seasonal conditions. 


The two main causes of onion grass infestation are autumn bare ground and lack of competition from desirable pasture species. Prevention involves managing pastures to maintain above 70 per cent ground cover and maximising growth during autumn and winter. 

Make sure you have a high proportion of desirable perennial species (grasses, legumes, herbs) in the pasture, maintain good soil fertility and use rotational grazing to maximise growth and persistence of perennials.

Onion grass does not respond to fertiliser as many other plants do. A glasshouse experiment revealed that the herbage yield of onion grass did not differ significantly when various rates of fertiliser were applied.

Non –herbicide control methods:

Onion grass is highly sensitive to close defoliation.  Cutting to one centimetre above ground at three to five week intervals reduced onion grass corm mass by 70 per cent, seed pod density by 100 per cent and plant density by 60 per cent compared with the non-defoliated control.

Cutting to five centimetres above ground also reduced onion grass corm mass by 58 per cent, seed pod density by 94 per cent and plant density by 35 per cent. Cutting at flowering only considerably reduced seed pod numbers (90 per cent), and corm mass to a lesser degree (27 per cent), but did not affect onion grass plant density.

These results suggest that more intensive grazing in the field has the potential to reduce the corms and seed produced by onion grass, and consequently the density of onion grass. Fertiliser application may not decrease onion grass density directly but could have an impact on onion grass through competition of other species that respond favourably to fertiliser in autumn and winter.

Herbicide control methods:

Onion grass can be controlled in established pastures using an appropriately registered metsulfuron-methyl herbicide(Aim, Ally , Lynx, Brushoff).

It is important that spraying is conducted at the point that the old corm is exhausted and the new corm is developing approximately six to eight weeks after onion grass has emerged. This will permit enough chemical to be absorbed by the new corm to kill it. 

Onion grass is very susceptible  to fungus spot and rust on the leaves in July and August and this is therefore not a good time to apply foliar herbicide to it.

Spraying at flowering can get rid of flowers and seeds but not corms.

Risk to clover: Note that products containing metsulfuron-methyl are likely to kill clover species for the remainder of the season after spraying and may effect the clover population in subsequent years. Use of a wick-wiper or rotary wiper for application of this chemical to onion grass can help to protect pasture in some situations. 

Risk to native vegetation: Note that if applied inappropriately, herbicides, particularly metsulfuron-methyl may affect beneficial native plants other than native grasses.

Management in crops and new pastures:

Sow a crop or annual grass pasture the year prior to establishing a perennial.

Spray with an appropriately registered knockdown herbicide to kill all pasture species in autumn.
Sow crop or annual grass with required fertiliser.

If more onion grass emerges after sowing, spray six weeks after the onion grass germinates with an appropriately registered metsulfuron-methyl herbicide.

Note that controlling onion grass prior to spring sowing is often difficult. Products containing metsulfuron-methyl may have an applicable plant-back period usually ruling out spring pasture establishment after spraying in winter. Spraying with a knockdown herbicide in spring to remove the onion grass prior to sowing may not prevent the onion grass from germinating the following year.

For more information please contact Ben South.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eutypa Control - how to limit its spread at pruning time.

  • Control of eutypa dieback can be achieved by protecting wounds from infection by the fungus, Eutypa lata or by physically removing infected wood. 
  • Wounds can be protected with fungicides, paints, pastes and biological control agents. It is also important to time pruning in order to avoid rainfall events and to maintain good sanitation. 
  • Controlling established infections is achieved by removing infected wood and retraining of watershoots from below infection. 
Pruning in wet weather should be avoided and preferably delayed to late winter when wound healing is more rapid and sap flowing.
Removal of dead wood from grapevines and alternative hosts in and around the vineyard will reduce the potential inoculum level.
The level of infection can be reduced by double pruning, the practice where mechanically pre-pruning is used to leave long spurs in early winter followed by hand-pruning to short spurs in late winter.
Contamination of pruning tools is NOT a major means of spreading the disease.

Wound protection

Paints and pastes
The application of acrylic paints and Greenseal paste (containing tebuconazole) are recommended as wound protectants, especially on large wounds. Other treatments such as Gelseal (tebuconazole) and Garrison (cyproconazole + iodocarb) are also effective but are not yet registered for use on grapevines.

Folicur (tebuconazole), Emblem (fluazinam) and Cabrio (pyraclostrobin) are the most effective fungicides tested as wound protectants but are not yet registered for control of eutypa dieback but are registered for other uses in vineyards.

Consult with your winery if you have any concerns about their use.

Use these fungicides at label rate. They can be applied efficiently to pruning wounds with commercial spray machines. It is important to direct nozzles to target the pruning wound zone and use high spray volumes (600 L/ha) to maximise coverage on wounds.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Virus Testing Results

DJ's have just completed a round of virus testing for one of our clients considering top working on their Chardonnay vineyard this year. 

Taking a virus test before top-working is a recommended procedure because of the effects viruses can have on the grafting process.

Notes on this virus report

At the date of virus sampling the Chardonnay block tested positive to:
LR1: Leaf Roll associated Virus type 1.

LR9: Leaf Roll associated Virus type 2.

LR5: Leaf Roll associated Virus type 5.

RSPaV: Rupestris stem pitting associated virus.  

This is a very common virus with upwards of 60% of all Australian vinifera (wine) grapevines testing positive. This virus is not considered to cause issues with top grafting.

GVA: Grapevine Vitivirus A

This virus has been associated with Kober Stem Grooving and Corky Bark diseases. These diseases are responsible for graft incompatibility, delayed budburst, severe decline, and even death of vines. GVA is generally transmitted by grafting; not transmitted by contact between plants. GVA is commonly seen with pits and grooves around the grafting union.

GFkV-A: Grapevine Fleck Virus variant A

Named after leaf appearance on vitis Rupestris; most vitis Vinifera clones and varieties are symptomless. Infection can be caused through grafting incompatibilities. No direct losses in vigour and yield are noted, but in combination with other viruses, shoot strength and yield may be reduced. This virus is located in the phloem. Transmission occurs through grafting and propagation. No field spread has been detected in Australia. 

Unfortunately as this vineyard has tested positive to five different viruses and is considered not suitable for top working. 

Please follow this link to the Virus Atlas for more pictures and grapevine virus information -

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Look out for your tribe

Since Winston Churchill used the phrase Black Dog to describe the bouts of sadness he experienced for much of his life, it has become the shorthand for the crippling disease we call depression.

Depression is a dog that can bite at anybody’s heels. These thoughts are to bring that hidden beast of a disease into the open.

Australian rural communities are losing too many people to this preventable sickness, and our beautiful district is never immune. Capable people are being laid low, or lost forever.

Every day a person loses to depression; is a loss to our whole community.

Since the economics of the wine industry have become depressed, all of us who work in it can feel alone and marginalised through the intense stress it brings. We are all under enormous pressure which can make our problems seem insurmountable.

Ordinarily happy folks suddenly become easy targets for the Black Dog.

Unfortunately I know this feeling, as do many of my friends and colleagues. There have been times in our lives where things have seemed too hard and the future looks too narrow. The feeling is like a crushing weight on your chest.

We must be very careful to look after each other, learn to watch out for symptoms, and stick together.

Wine tasting is the glamorous side of the business - behind the scenes the reality is a lot of hard work!

It's important to know that depression is a common illness which affects roughly 1 in every 5 people. Good treatments are available through your family doctor and, with treatment, sufferers should fully recover.

Beyond Blue is a good start for specific information. Its experts provide information especially tuned for people in rural and remote communities.

It's not always easy to help someone who may be experiencing depression. It can be hard to know what to say or do.

When you feel concern for a friend you think may be depressed, encourage them gently to talk about how they feel. Listen patiently: sometimes, when somebody needs to talk, they might not seek advice, but just feel like talking it through. Sometimes they may be vague about their concerns.

Gentle open-ended questions like "So tell me about...?", open the door for an answer bigger than 'yes' or 'no'. This is often a good way to start a conversation. If conversation becomes difficult or your friend gets angry, stay calm, be firm, fair and consistent and don't lose control.

Simply spending time with a depressed friend lets them know someone cares and understands them. Encourage them to seek professional help from their family doctor or at least get online and look at information themselves.

We need to watch out for the Black Dog now more than ever. Our tribe needs to stick together. As an industry, a community, and as individuals, we need to 'walk the walk.' Actions speak louder than words. So please look after your mates. Make a call. Go visit.

Website - Beyond Blue Website: The national depression initiative.

Hotline - 1300 22 46 36

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Vintage 2015 : Biologically Effective Day Degrees

We model the rate at which grapevines mature by counting the amount of time the temperature is between 10oC and 19oC. 

Click on the image to view larger size.
Weather data model for this Vintage - ABOVE - explains why harvest in McLaren Vale began during late January and early February. 

Willunga has an accumulated BEDD of 1240 degrees for the season so far. The previous three year average is 1171 degrees.

Temperature accumulation from the middle of October to December 2014 (blue line) was higher than the average of the last three years (orange line). Grapevines flowered and matured at a quicker rate in response. Harvest began early because of a warm spring which caused flowering (EL-19/27) to be completed early.