Managing grapevines with less water in the Mallee

When irrigators are faced with reduced water allocations, a range of decisions need to be made including:

  • the purchase of additional water (most likely at an elevated value);
  • prioritise water onto preferred varieties and patches;
  • giving other patches reduced volumes with consequent reductions in production;
  • abandoning poorly performing patches, and
  • possibly removing plantings of lowest priority and bringing forward redevelopment plans.

The success of a reduced irrigation strategy must consider the impacts during drought and in subsequent seasons. Grapevines are generally considered better at recovering from extended periods of low water applications than most other crop types. Vines are often chosen as the ‘sacrifice’ if prioritising irrigation in a mixed horticultural enterprise.

This factsheet covers options for managing your grapevines with a reduced water allocation as well as describing the experiences of growers from Irymple, Victoria and Curlwaa, NSW, who faced limited water availability in the 2007/08 season.

Topics covered include:

  • grapevine water requirements
  • regulated deficit irrigation (RDI)
  • sustained deficit irrigation (SDI)
  • rootstock
  • irrigation strategy
  • water saving practices (immediate and longer-term strategies)
  • water budget planning
  • recovery


Page last updated: 11 Mar 2021