Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What Grapevine Disease Is That?

While spraying a week or so ago, I came across a Cabernet Sauvignon vine with some shoots that had very strange looking leaves at the growing end.
They were quite deformed and shriveled with distinct yellow spots.
On inspection there was no evidence of any insect activity so it was into the text books to try to identify what the problem was.
It was the only vine in the one hundred in the block that demonstrated this phenomenon. 

My grapevine disease/pest 'bible' is Diseases and Pests edited by Nicholas, Magarey and Wachtel.
From the text there would appear to be three possibilities.
Two are herbicide damage with Glyphosate (Roundup®) and 2,4-D the culprits. We don't use the latter so it's possible that the former is a problem. I spray the undervine rows with Roundup® for weed control but am very careful about preventing foliage overspray. However in vineyards with sandy soils where roots are near the surface (that's us!) Roundup® can cause these observed symptoms through root absorption.
The other possibility is some sort of mutation (genetic changes in buds) which occur on single shoots.
It does appear however whatever is happening is not a major problem.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Day 2015

Christmas Day in Australia is usually hot or many times extremely hot.
My parent's generation stuck with European tradition of a hot lunch and spent too much time in a sauna like kitchen warmed up even more by an oven at full blast.
My generation saw the folly in this and gradually things changed.
Most now opt for a BBQ or cold seafood and salads. A lot of people head for a park or the beach for a picnic style lunch.
Trading began at the Sydney Fish Market's 36-hour seafood marathon at 5am on Tuesday morning. It continued through the night before finishing at 5pm on Wednesday.
100000 customers purchased approximately 600 tonnes of seafood including 120 tonnes of prawns and 70,000 dozen oysters during the period.
This year our Christmas Day started with the traditional pancake breakfast before a trip to the beach for a long walk and a sit in the sun.

Then it was back home to prepare lunch.
This year it was antipasto, prawns, oysters (natural and Kilpatrick) and steamed mussels as starters and green pepper corn sauced eye filet with potato casserole as a main.
Dessert was plum pudding for the remnant of the traditionalist in us or pavlova topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit.
The wine selection was:
Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV Champagne
Pikes 'The Merle' Clare Valley Riesling 2013
Ross Hill Pinnacle Series Shiraz 2010
Hedberg Hill Late Picked Riesling 2011
Then we retired for a late afternoon nap.
There was no dinner that night.
Today, Boxing Day, will be a quiet one with all of us in recovery mode.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Highway Roadworks

Back in March I mentioned that the highway at the end of our road was going to be subjected to major roadworks involving the straightening of a dangerous bend and the construction of a new bridge.
Work was planned to take until July 2016 at a cost of $21million.
We were expecting major disruption and hold ups.
However, things have been surprisingly good.
They quickly installed a temporary two lane bridge next to the construction site of the new one and had traffic controllers placed along the route. The highway was subjected to 60 and 40km/hr speed limits depending on the work being done. We got to know the 'paddle pop' men quite well with our comings and goings and they were always there to get us in and out of the traffic as quickly as possible. I think the longest we sat waiting was around 10 minutes.

The old bridge was demolished and the new one went up in record time. We were the fourth one across it a few weeks ago. The construction crew were all lined up taking pictures and waving as the first line of cars went over. We responded with thumbs up and a few honks of the horn. They have already dismantled the temporary bridge.
The cutting that bypasses the curve is taking longer. Apparently they hit a bed of blue metal (basalt) that was undetected at the planning stage. This has necessitated some blasting and plenty of big excavator-mounted hydraulic jack hammering machines.
So all should be good for the increased traffic over the Christmas/Summer holiday period when our population swells to four times the normal. There will be the usual hold ups so it will be very early trips for us into town to the supermarket etc. over the next five weeks.
The construction company left a nice Christmas card in our mail box together with an aerial picture of the site. All the neighbours agree they have done a great PR job on us so far.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Vintage 2016 / Update 1

Before we left for the USA in early October, bud burst had started.
From our previous experience, leaving the grapes to their own devices at this time of their development, we knew we would be taking a risk of fungus.
However on return early November it appeared we had dodged the fungus bullet and we managed to get spray on both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
However the dreaded lurgi (Influenza A) hit us severely before we could complete the exercise and we were out of action for a month.
Early this week I got spray onto the Tempranillo.
There was some evidence of downy and powdery mildew in the canopy.
We used Agrifos 600 (downy mildew curative), copper oxychloride (downy mildew preventative) and Bayfidan 250 EC (powdery mildew preventative). There is no effective powdery mildew curative so will have to hope that what is visible has not spread too far and the protective spray will do its job.
The Semillon, Cabernet and Pinot seem free of fungus.
We are waiting for good weather, which is forecast for the next few days, to finish spraying.
Today it is extremely stormy.
A huge thunderstorm just missed us this morning but hit town. Torrential rain bucketed down. We only got a few sprinkles.
In Sydney, 170 'crow fly' kilometers to the north, very destructive winds associated with a possible tornado affected the coast around Kurnell at 10:30am this morning. These destructive winds have since moved offshore from Bondi Beach.
Wind gusts up to 213 km/h (132mph) were reported at Kurnell 10:33am.
Wind gusts of 142 km/h were also reported at Molineaux Point (Botany Bay), and 111 km/h at Little Bay this morning.
This type of weather is very unusual for this part of the world.
Who says climate change is a myth?

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Influenza A

The Influenza A virus causes influenza in birds and some mammals and is the only species of influenza virus A.
Influenza A viruses are negative sense, single-stranded, segmented RNA viruses.
The several subtypes are labeled according to an H number and an N number.
There are 18 different known H antigens (H1 to H18) and 11 different known N antigens (N1 to N11).
"Human influenza virus" usually refers to those subtypes that spread widely among humans.
H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2 are the only known influenza A virus subtypes currently circulating among humans.
  Symptoms include:
  • rapid onset of fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • conjunctivitis
  • fatigue
  • sneezing
  • running nose
  • sore throat
  • a cough.
Most people recover within a week, although the cough and fatigue may last longer.
Both the co driver and I have been laid low by this for nearly three weeks now.
Vaccinations against the virus are available but in many cases ineffective.
This disease is really one to avoid!