Monday, December 12, 2011

2011 Spray program

Last year I published a record of the fungicides we used to combat mildew and oidium during the 2010 growing season and since several readers contacted me with encouraging comments I’ve decided to make this an annual tradition.

2011 Spray dates and products

In Burgundy it’s a very rare year indeed which allows conscientious growers so much opportunity to reduce their chemical inputs and we are pleased to have taken full advantage of 2011’s favourable conditions.

April, May and June 2011 were exceptionally dry and remembering similar conditions in 2007 we decided to spray nothing until we observed the first symptoms of mildew or oidium. For an organic grower this isn’t as simple a decision as it sounds; the main organic fungicides are strictly preventative and most growers start spraying as soon as a few leaves have unfurled. I’m uncomfortable with such a systematic approach and prefer to spend time looking for the very first sign of disease. And here it is...

Somehow I’ve inherited an old microscope from my father’s days studying medicine at Edinburgh University (he tells me it was old even then!) and its 20x magnification is proving very helpful in making a definative early diagnosis. The photograph above was taken (down the microscope) on the morning of May 16th and by that evening our vines had received their first anti-oidium spray. For reference, by then almost all other vineyards, organic or otherwise, had received 3 to 5 sprays.

I believe that for the past two years I’ve been the first grower in the Cote d’Or to inform the Chambre d’Agriculture of oidium on Pinot noir (it has been pointed out that this isn’t necessarily a record I should be proud of!)

I didn’t observe any mildew until the 7th July by which time the grapes themselves were beyond risk and the temptation of an entire season without anti-mildew sprays (Copper) was so great that we decided to complete the season unprotected. It then proceeded to rain most of July and August which made the leaves look pretty tired by harvest, albeit without major impact on the quality of the wine!