December 2015 was as difficult as December 2014, with the same serious powdery mildew threat. Two differences: firstly, we didn’t have any problems with the efficacy of the preventative sprays we used in 2015 and secondly, we were dogged by a broken drive shaft in our air blast sprayer – an essential piece of kit if one wants good penetration of the canopy.
We had three alternatives: first was a new spray unit, which would set us back $6,000 at least and a wait until March; second was a new crankshaft, also coming from Germany in about March and third was to visit a Hobart engineering firm who came up with an answer in three days and for $350. Whilst we didn’t miss a spray, canopy management was set back by the four days disassembling and rebuilding the spray unit. The last block, the Open Lyre Chardonnay, was finished on 1 January, but the clutter in the middle of the trellises had taken its toll and spots of powdery mildew were on the stems, leaves and some bunches. It remains to be seen if the eradication programme is able to make corrections necessary to save this block. The spray we use is one approved by NASA: Ecocarb, and we are applying that, along with canola oil in a two-day cycle. The rest of the vineyard is in very good shape. We shall keep our fingers crossed. A big thank you to Catherine and Fleur for their assistance.