Coachella’s table grape vines are in the midst of full bloom or at least approaching it, according to Mark Ostrum, PCA with Helena Chemical Company in Thermal, Calif. “The crop is about on track for normal for this time of the year,” he says. “It may be a couple of days behind, but right now it’s looking good – better than last year.”
Bud break was fairly uniform, according to Ostrum. The freeze that blasted through California and Arizona in January didn’t seem to have an appreciable effect on the situation since it occurred prior to bud break, he says. “In fact, we had better chilling hours prior to bud break than what we had last year. Right now, we’re looking for signs of vine mealybug starting to move and putting on preventative sprays for powdery mildew. Next week, we’ll start sizing sprays with gibrilic acid.”
In Fresno County, the crop is post bud break with fruit starting to appear, according to Eric Wuhl, PCA with Western Farm Service in Fresno. “It’s a good crop,” he says. “It’s stronger than last year. We had a good winter for the vines to sleep. We’re just now starting our mildew sprays for varieties with shoots 6-8 inches, especially in Flame Seedless, and then the others will follow. So far, it’s been a warm, dry, sunny spring so we haven’t seen much disease pressure. Most of the growers had a preventative on for phomopsis which took care of that issue. It wasn’t the problem we saw last year.”
In terms of insect pressure, Wuhl says a biofix has been established since the first omnivorous leafroller was trapped in mid-March, and sprays will begin based on the UC Davis degree day model.
“Now we’ll start looking for vine mealybug,” he says.