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Recent foothills winds dry up Valley vineyards

Although relatively cool temperatures have delayed some of the consequences of a dry winter in the San Joaquin Valley, recent high winds have changed the situation in many areas. “During the last weather system that passed through, we had sustained winds as high as 30-40 miles per hour in the foothills,” says Brett Keller with Renner Winery at Vallecito in Calaveras County.

“It was strong enough to break canes — that’s particularly disturbing because they were just grafted.”

On the positive side, Keller says, there has been no evidence of disease or pest pressure.

“We’re on a regular program to prevent powdery mildew and haven’t had any problems so far. We expect to see mites beginning to show up as the temperatures get warmer, but so far that hasn’t been a problem either."

On the valley floor, wind, along with a dry winter, has also been a major nemesis so far this season.

“Temperatures have been fairly moderate through the spring,” says Bill Thompson, with Four Seasons Ag Consulting at Livingston. “But the wind we’ve had is drying up the ground just at a time when everything is beginning to need more water with the onset of higher temperatures and a rapidly-developing crop load.”

As the water situation crisis on the West Side of the San Joaquin unfolds, coastal growers are looking forward to warmer temperatures to enhance fruit development.

“With as much mild weather as we’ve had this spring, we haven't had much pest or disease pressure,” says Jason Smith, with Paraiso Vineyards at Soledad. “We’re on our regular program for mildew and haven't had any pest problems of note at this point.

“Water has been interesting. We started putting it on in February, and our biggest concern has been trying to drive accumulated salts out of the root zone. Other than that, set is done and the crop looks average in most spots. Some warm weather this week is very welcome.”

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