Purdue Wine Grape Team Newsletter
Dear Indiana Winemakers,

Grape harvest 2015

It's time for grape harvest to begin! Finally, after what seems like a long and challenging year, it's time to bring in this year's harvest. Many growers are still recovering from the Polar Vortex of 2014 and have spent countless hours retraining or replanting vines. Many of those vines will have a small crop this year, but others are poised to produce a full crop of fruit for the state's 80 plus wineries.

This has been a very challenging season. Record rainfall in June made it nearly impossible to maintain good fungicide coverage during the most critical period for the major diseases. Consequently black rot and anthracnose are widespread this year. Despite that pressure, most growers will have a full crop. Weather for the past few weeks has been nearly perfect. Warm sunny days and cool nights are ideal for optimum fruit quality. Rainfall has been moderate so late season fruit rot problems are minimal. Growers can now wait patiently for fruit to reach its optimum level of sugar, acid and pH, while developing full flavor and aroma. The 2015 vintage looks to be excellent.

Even with the ideal weather lately, there are still some concerns. Downy mildew showed up relatively early and is widespread on susceptible varieties. The recently dry weather helps hold it in check, but not completely. Downy can easily spread with heavy dues, which are common as night temperatures begin to drop. It is important to control downy and maintain good vine health going into fall to achieve maximum cold hardiness. Bird damage is also widespread this year. One progressive grower reports excellent results keeping birds at bay with radios in the vineyard tuned to rock and roll music. He thinks the "Bob and Tom Show", and "Tony's Budget Car Sales" ads help as well.  I'm not sure how the music might affect wine quality... but if it works on birds, who cares!  We've resorted to netting most of our plots to reduce depredation. While expensive and time consuming, netting is the most effective means of managing bird damage.

Growers that have fruit to sell or wineries looking to purchase fruit should post a message to the Purdue Wine Grape mail list. I set this list up a few years ago and it currently has about 250 users. It is an excellent way to communicate with others in the industry. If you are not currently subscribed, go to https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/fruitveg/Pages/maillistmain.aspx and click on the Wine and Grape Production mail list. The process is simple. If you have any problems, let me know.

Don't forget the Purdue Wine Grape Team workshop coming up soon.  The learn more about grape harvest parameters, vineyard sampling and fruit  processing, don't miss the Purdue Wine Grape Team Fall Workshop on  September 24 in West Lafayette. Please click here for registration information.  

Good luck with harvest this year! 

Bruce Bordelon
Professor of Viticulture

Jeanette Merritt
Christian Butzke

Jill Blume

Bruce Bordelon