The Squirt – Winter 2017

Welcoming Winter

Winter is truly upon us, the viticulture and horticulture growing regions have tucked things to bed and are planning for the new season, whilst on the other side of the fence the broadacre districts have either finished their seeding or are in full swing.

Last season was longer than normal due to so much good rain with a comparably mild summer. The rainfall meant that there was plenty of moisture down deep and considering opening rains have been a bit sporadic, this has allowed some to get off to a  good start with others wanting a little more.

The abundant rainfall saw a need for tracking highly leachable nutrients such as N and S and soil testing revealed that these elements were indeed lower than previous years.

As we move forward plants are going to experience a cooler growing season due to the late start, and with plenty of speculation about the season ahead, it’s going to be all the more important to keep nutrition up to our crops (see this article on Foliar Nutrition).

To start this season’s edition of The Squirt, here’s Alex with a summary of what the season held for the grape growers;

The W.A. Winegrowing Vintage 2017

The WA season started late after an excellent winter providing good rains and chill. The season started sluggishly as the weather didn’t warm up in spring as per usual.
The good soil moisture and milder start to the season were very positive in regard to vine canopy growth and for crop potentials. Very early on, crop yield potentials looked they could be very solid if things didn’t change. Many growers and winemakers chose to thin early after fruit set as it was looking clear that this was going to be a season where grower degree days were going to be low (akin to 2006). This in hindsight was a very positive move, especially for the reds.
Some of the rain events during the growing season were significant with the largest sadly flooding some vineyards in the Swan Valley, located near Perth, finishing their season early.
With moist, cooler days that were interestingly still often humid, disease was also a challenge for growers that didn’t respect the season’s weather and bolster their programs.
The cooler weather into the summer months and from the start of the season growers were reporting to being 3-4 weeks behind, which continued through to the end of the season as the heat never came. We would usually experience weeks of mid to high 30’s but this never came as the high-pressure cells were never held up and heat troughs never formed.
The positives of the milder season are the more aromatic and pretty florals in whites and reds would be more evident. This is because the higher heat loads of warmer seasons can “burn” these characters out leaving bigger more robust fruit flavours. The opportunity this year was a better mix, from a broader flavour and aroma pallet.
As whites started to come of it was quickly evident that the extra moisture had led to larger berry weights with crops coming off at record tonnages from many vineyards. Harvesters were flat out dragging fruit off vines with bins in high demand as tonnages expanded in front of them. As reds came on, the weather and warmth eased leading to more “hang time” needed before the reds were phenologically and flavour ripe. Picking was juggled by wineries based on space and hanging potential between cooler changes that brought rain.
Picking was extended well into May before the fat lady sang on another vintage. Those that grew their vintage beards had something more substantial to shave off than in a “normal season”.
Look for pristine higher aromatic, full flavoured but elegant, white wines and reds that will also be more aromatic with good fleshy fruit flavours and savoury nuances but with firmer, smooth and approachable tannins. Should be great wines that will drink well now but potentially age well with good natural acidity.

-Alex Gaman

For the rest of The Squirt for this season, please follow the links below;

Nutrition News

The Need to Change our Fertiliser Approach in (Western) Australia

Potassium and the importance of plant UPTAKE

The DGT Phosphorus Test

Applying Ourselves

Fertiliser Placement and Bar Setup

Dosatron in Liquid Injection System

Liquid Injection Products Suited to WA Soil Types

Animal Matters

Hi-Tech Goat Saving

Ruminant and Sheep Stress

On the Horizon

IoT and Agriculture

For more information or to answer any questions please feel free to contact your Agronomist, your local agent or Hi-Tech Ag Solutions direct on (08) 97257322 or