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California grape crop off to a good start

“Grapevines are growing well, thanks to the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had for the month of March,” says Jennifer Hashim-Buckey, UC Cooperative Extension Kern County farm advisor at Bakersfield. “In early districts, some shoot thinning is already occurring in early table grape varieties like Flame Seedless.”

The potential for disease and vine mealybug are also top of mind.

“Growers have been busy making wettable sulfur/copper applications to protect the new tissue from powdery mildew,” Hashim-Buckey says. “Because it has been so dry, phomopsis has not been a problem, but we still have a while to go before summer. Ants are very active in vineyards that have vine mealybug. Although we continue to detect adult females and egg masses clustered on roots near the soil line, it will be only a matter of time before crawlers start making their way up the vine toward developing shoots.”

Bud break has also been early in the Paso Robles area, according to Neil Roberts, viticulture consultant at Paso Robles. “At this point, we’re just worried about the potential for cold weather and frost,” he says. “Other than that, everything looks good so far.”

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