FARMVIEW Season 2 Episode 3.7
Episode 3.7 - Italian Pergola system
Table grape grower, Sunraysia
We are trialling the Italian pergola system. In Italy they grow all their table grapes under the Pergola system, but we have sort of adapted it to the Australian conditions.
I have travelled a bit, I have been all around the world. This was the only system I have seen around the world that we could adapt to Australia and be viable with the wage system that we have got. In Italy they all wrap all their canes on up here and I just felt it was going to be a bit expensive for Australian labour when you get people to do it above their head. So we have just trialled it down here and we can actually lift the wire up over the next year or two to make it 100% Italian Pergola.
The main benefits we were going for was to get the fruit in earlier and better quality and we achieved both, because it was covered we had no wind damage on the fruit. The fruit was just spectacular it looked magnificent and our only problem with the fruit this year it was not up to size. If we had got it to the size we wanted it, we would have got an extra 25%-30% premium. In Chile they have had the same problem and they had put it down to not enough humidity through the canopy, where we are going to put a cooling system through the [inaudible 00:01:36] season for that reason. Disease is another thing that you have got to be very careful of, downing mildew can be a problem, just got to be more aware of what is going on inside the hothouse compared to the outside.
We are just trying something different, we wanted something different in the marketplace. Our property here is set up for export. In China they go berserk for good sweet crimson and by coming in two weeks earlier, it gives us another avenue of bringing the marketplace earlier, setting your brands up and kicking off your season for the rest of the stuff.
Because of the ground conditions in the hot air everything just takes off like a racehorse and the nodes are too far apart. That is one of the reasons we have to be very careful with our fertigation and water management to try and hold the vigour back. This is out in the field basically. This cane here is growing after we have taken the covers off and things have come back to normal. That is the difference, the spacings. In 12 inches we have got 2, 4, 6, 7 buds, over here we have got 3. So that is what we are looking for. You have got to be careful though because if tit is too far apart, you are not going to have fruit for buds and that is another reason why we take the covers off, so we get the sunlight in and to get the development, get the fruitfulness in the buds. If we leave the canopy on too long, when it is not needed we will not get the fruitfulness for the next season.
Flower and finishes, a week after flowering, get it off and that way then it also takes out the disease issues. You get back to normal environment. We had the heat wave in October/November this year. All of a sudden we were at 20-22 degrees cool mornings, 7-8 degrees. Overnight we have gone from that to 35-40 degrees for two weeks at the start of flowering this patch here was actually a, we believe it was our best patch at flowering on the whole property, we actually got our thinning sprays on the vines, when the fruit shedded, it just went to all hen and chicken and it was just a total disaster. We have never seen a year for table grapes, like what we have had this year. We are down on 2009 figures we are down by 70% and that is the reason why we are looking at going to the hothouse, just to eliminate the weather factors. If we got down the cover, get it in earlier, there is no wind blemish, more even flowering, just to eradicate some of those issues.
Irrigation we believed we have saved 15-20% on water. You would put the drippers on in here and you have the drippers going under ground across one patch here outside. In the hothouse the moisture would still be there for a week, it is still sitting on the ground. When we bring everything into perspective, well we do cover the grapes anyway in another shape of cover. I recon it will be about 50% more than normal trellis to put up and with coming in two weeks earlier, hoping for a 25-30% premium on our fruit. I think there an opportunity for the system in Australia if we can get it right.
It is a different world, it is a whole different ball game that side, but it is also very exiting.
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