Central Sierra
University of California
Central Sierra

Foothill Fodder

2018 Vintage Report

Where have all the birds gone? Owl nesting boxes appeared empty this year.  One theory: summer smoke affected the local bird population.

Everyone, and I mean EVERY one,  is all smiles as the 2018 California foothill winegrape harvest sails in on cool weather after a bit of a tumultuous season.  Winemakers were giddy and growers still energetic (a rarity come October) as I visited several foothill vineyards to learn how the season wrapped up.  "Beautiful acidity" in the later red varieties was the common theme as the cooler August and September temperatures allowed fruit to hang and develop...

Posted on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 5:18 PM
Tags: 2018 (1), mites (1), temperatures (1), winegrape harvest (1)

Zaccaria's International Team Showcase Irrigation Whiz During Foothill Field Day

Daniele Zaccaria kicked off the field day at Safari Vineyards with a discussion of ET.

With mounting pressure on growers to account for their precious water use, irrigation tools are relevant now more than ever.  Daniele Zaccaria, UC Irrigation Specialist, brought his impressive International team of student researchers and scientists to the foothills August 10 to discuss their study findings and grower friendly irrigation tools at a UCCE field day.  About twenty growers made the trip over to meet with us at Safari vineyards in Pilot Hill, where we have...

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 5:04 PM
Tags: ET (1), Irrigation (2), pressure chamber (1), Zaccaria (1)

Phylloxera: a foothill pest whose time has come

This zinfandel vineyard was planted in 1923 and is declining from Phylloxera.

Hello Fodder Family! Whoosh, the 2018 season is beginning to move fast now that things have finally warmed up (wasn't that cool spring weather nice, though?).  Last time here I wrote about a relatively LARGE (in physical body terms, that is) pest of grapevines, today I want to tell you about a tiny one... On a farm call recently, I was reminded of a pest I've come to know pretty well since my appointment here in the...

Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2018 at 1:48 PM
Tags: leafroll (1), old vines (1), phylloxera (1)

Vole with a V

Yikes! Voles girdle trunks, killing the cambium of the vine or tree

Hi there Fodder Folks! Our agricultural pests come in all shapes, sizes and Phyla, and sometimes the most destructive ones are those that have four legs and fur.  Voles (Microtus sp.), otherwise known as meadow mice and not to be confused with the friendly mole (with a M), can do incredibly destructive damage to trees and vines, especially young plantings.  One of my responsibilities as a UC Farm Advisor is to diagnose problems in grower's fields, and I have had an unusually...

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 5:14 PM
Tags: grape (1), olive (1), red leaf (1), rodent damage (1), voles (1)

Spring 2018 Weather Confounds: Lack of Chill for Trees, Frost Damage in Grapes

It may be early, but apple bloom appears light.

If you are a Foothill grower of apples or winegrapes you may see a lighter crop load come harvest time this year, but for very different reasons.  Apple bloom appears light, possibly due to a lack of chilling in February; while lows of 31°F in late March and mid April have caused some frost damage in some grape varieties. Remember those 70°F days in early February? While you may have been basking in the California winter weather while your relatives back in the Midwest were...

Posted on Monday, April 23, 2018 at 5:39 PM
Tags: apples (1), Chilling hours (1), frost damage (1), grapes (2), weather (3)

Are Your Vines in Balance? Foothill Grape Day is March 29!


Foothill Grape Day 2018 will be held Thursday, March 29 from 7:30 a.m.to 3:00 p.m. at the Amador County Fairgrounds in Pokerville Hall.  This year's theme is "Vine Balance", which I think of as the sweet spot in growing a particular block of grapes.  This occurs when the vegetative canopy and crop load can be sustained and provides the desired grape quality.   Vine balance is more than an academic concept.  It is the foundation for making management...

Posted on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 11:11 AM

South American Grape Growers Plan for Sustainable Future

Richardo Villalba presents Andean climate stats at GiESCO.

Happy New Year 2018 Fodder Folks! 2017 ended for me with a trip to South America, in order to participate in the 20th International GiESCO (Group of International Experts of vitivinicultural Systems for CoOperation) meeting held in Mendoza, Argentina, and to do some vineyard field touring with my UCCE colleagues in Chile. GiESCO (a funny acronym, I know) provides a wealth of information, and it is especially interesting to realize that winegrowers and extension...

Posted on Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Mechanical Harvest Field Day

Dr. Kaan Kurtural describes transitioning a vineyard from head to cordon trained.

Hi Fodder Followers!  About 40 foothill growers and wine industry folks turned out yesterday for my UCCE Sponsored "Transition to Mechanical Harvest Field Day" held at Dick Cooper's ranch in Plymouth, Amador County. With guest speaker Dr. Kaan Kurtural, UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Specialist and hosted by Dick with help from Kevin Steward of Trinchero, the morning held a good discussion of machine harvest, concerns of quality, and the lack of labor. Attendees...

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2017 at 3:46 PM

Using the disease triangle and PMI to decide how to start your seasonal mildew program

Disease triangle for powdery mildew

Hi Foothill Fodder Family! This week temperatures warmed up enough to begin the powdery mildew index in all of our 7 foothill PMI (powdery mildew index) stations-the information is publicly available on our UCIPM website here, with links on my webpages here.  What does the index mean and how can we best use this information to begin our powdery mildew treatments?  I like to start by thinking of the disease "triangle": the 3 things needed for disease to happen.  The key...

Posted on Friday, May 5, 2017 at 9:46 AM

Kurtural Team Attacks "On the Go" Vineyard Management

Dr. Kurtural addresses the NVEELC group at Oakville Station.

Greetings Fodder Folks, In early April I participated in the "National Viticulture and Enology Extension Leadership Conference" (NVEELC) which was held at the UC Oakville Station in the lovely Napa Valley.  The conference is an opportunity for viticulture extension folks from around the country to share industry news and ideas for working together, and includes a day of professional development. 44 extension-related viticulture and enology professionals participated in...

Posted on Monday, April 17, 2017 at 3:42 PM
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