9 Jun 2011

New project to encourage late season vine-thinning

11:13 am on 9 June 2011

A new project in the wine industry will encourage grape growers to use mechanical vine-thinning late in the season, to reduce production and the risk of disease.

An oversupply of grapes in the past few years has seen grape and wine prices plummet, and growers have been warned to cut production or risk further eroding their profitability.

New Zealand Winegrowers says recent research has found mechanical thinning of vines just before harvest is a cost-effective way of achieving targeted yields.

Research manager Simon Hooker says it can also be a sustainable, non-chemical way of reducing the risk of the botrytis bunch rot disease.

He says the project, which has money from the Ministry of Agriculture's sustainable farming fund, will complete thinning trials, and then take the results to the growers.