Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Wine grape producers in some parts of the Western Cape, already reeling from severe drought, have been dealt another blow after being hit by frost in early October.

This, together with the drought, would put pressure on the 2018 harvest, wine producer group VinPro said. It said frost was a threat for vineyards at the early stage of the growth cycle of the vine because flower clusters were small and vulnerable.

The biggest damage was caused in the Worcester region where flower clusters were killed off on certain farms.

"Damage was observed in especially the lower-lying areas with clear gulleys along which the cold moved," said Pierre Snyman, VinPro’s viticultural consultant in the region. "The cold air pooled up in the hedges and berms and inflicted great damage which may have an effect on the 2018 harvest and result in losses for both the producer and cellar in terms of wine contracts.

"Vine shoots were in most cases killed back to near the cordon; the crop therefore is completely lost on most of the vines. The challenge now is to manage the vineyards carefully in order for there to be well-ripened canes in the winter of 2018 for pruning purposes," said Snyman. He said the affected producers were expecting losses of between 10,000 and 15,000 tonnes.

"Wine grape farmers were currently working hard to get practices into place to recover a part of the crop and ensure a good wood to prune back in the 2018 winter," said Hennie Visser, another viticultural consultant in the region.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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