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Early Bud Break Biggest Challenge For Napa Valley Grapegrowers

Early bud break means more frost protection needed for new growth.

Domenick Bianco of Renteria Vineyard Management speaks at the press conference on Jan. 28, 2013. credit Keri Brenner
Domenick Bianco of Renteria Vineyard Management speaks at the press conference on Jan. 28, 2013. credit Keri Brenner



Buds on grapevines in Napa Valley are already opening in some areas -- about a month or more earlier than normal, growers said Tuesday.

Early bud break is one of several challenges mentioned at today's news conference called by Napa Valley Grapegrowers.

Warm winter temperatures, combined with lack of rainfall, means adjusting crops in many ways, they said.

Some growers are eliminating cover crops, such as mustard. Others are planning to thin off excess shoots up to three or four weeks earlier than normal -- and do it more aggressively.

Early bud break means more frost protection is needed for new growth, the growers said. Frost protection is usually done with wind or water (over 32 degrees) applications -- but growers who use water sprinklers may have a problem if the rainwater stores are low.

Speakers included Hal Huffsmith, NVG director and vineyard management director at  Trinchero Family Estates, and Domenick Bianco of Renteria Vineyard Management.

On the good news side, groundwater stores in Napa Valley appear to be mostly stable, despite the lack of rain.

Rainfall, however is critical. For 2013, Napa Valley rainfall totals are now at about 2 inches -- down from a normal of 15 inches for this time of year, the growers said.

The last drought year in Napa Valley equal to the current situation was in 1976, they said.

For more information, see www.napagrowers.org

Tom Davidson January 29, 2014 at 01:25 AM
I thought we had a moratorium on that already.

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