Mendocino growers water conscious this season

“Cautious optimism” probably best sums up the situation for Mendocino County growers as they turn the corner from spring to summer.

“It is still a bit early to tell what our crop looks like; we’re just finishing bloom in some areas,” says Glenn McGourty, Mendocino County farm advisor. “Crops that have set look good — not big, but average. So far, our dry spring has also been cool, and grapevine canopies are in good shape. It’s early for obvious powdery mildew infestations, and I haven’t seen any disease.”

Pest problems have also been rare to date, according to McGourty. “Mites haven’t been a problem. A few growers have had to spray for leafhoppers.”

Again, it’s water that’s the big concern for growers in Mendocino County, along with the rest of the state.

“Growers on the Russian River are being encouraged to cut back by about 15 percent,” McGourty says. “Irrigation, for the most part, hasn’t started yet — we’ll be putting on our first applications in the next 10 days. Growers with their own reservoirs are nervous, but they probably have sufficient water if they are careful.”

For wine connoisseurs at least, the drought is not so distressing. “Often, dry springs in Mendocino and Lake Counties turn into good vintages, with grape quality and subsequent wines quite high in quality,” McGourty says.

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