So far, so good. Early results from bud dissection are indicating everything is a “go” right now for the ’08 crop. From table grapes in Kern County to wine grapes in Sonoma, there just aren’t too many surprises in store at this point.

“Based on the bud dissection I’ve done so far, it looks about normal right now,” says Devin Carroll with Advanced Agricultural Services in Fresno. “It’s similar to last year.”

The forecast appears to be consistent throughout much of California with some caveats.

“Fruitfulness appears to vary by location,” says Nick Frey, President, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “Sonoma County is pretty good overall for cluster counts, but as we learned last year, cluster size is important too. So going into bud break, prospects are for a normal crop based upon winter rainfall and cluster counts.”

Bud mites are showing up with a little more frequency in table grapes, according to Carroll. “It varies from one vineyard to the next, and tends to be heavier in some cultivars such as Flames,” Carroll says. “Damage to Flames is often 10-20 percent, ranging to over 50 percent in extreme cases. I have seen Crimsons and Black Seedless in the 20-40 percent range, and Autumn Royals and Thompsons up to 10 percent. Red Globes appear to be almost immune.”

If a vineyard has unexplained low fruitfulness, bud mites should be investigated as a possible reason, according to Carroll. Bud mites spend most of the year feeding inside the bud scales where it is not a problem. However, with high numbers they may reach the center and feed on the fruit primordial, he says.