Deborah Miller, president and owner of Deerpoint Group Inc. in Fresno, echoed Brase’s point that growers should know the moisture levels in their fields and may need to apply additional water to shore up vines that lost some reserve storage of carbohydrates, particularly if they skimped on post-harvest irrigation.

“This is a bad time to be low on water,” she said.

Aside from the soil itself, Miller said, it’s important to look at vine stress and to be aware of just how much water is being applied per acre.

Adding too much nitrogen, she said, can spur vegetative growth that means even more demands for water.

Now is a good time to flush irrigation systems and look at filters. She warned against opening too many lines too quickly while testing them because it can reduce water pressure and prove ineffective: “It can cost several days of labor and result in nothing being accomplished.”

Miller said growers may need to consult with water district officials if they have water quality issues. She cited as an example problems that are developing as districts cut back on costly chemical treatments. Instead, Miller said, they may use a system called “chaining,” in which a chain is used to manually remove aquatic weeds and algae.

In other presentations at the tailgate meeting:

Jack Passarella, safety consultant with The Zenith, a workers compensation insurance company in Fresno, talked of tractor safety.

He said growers should have a manual for every tractor they operate, and one source for those manuals could be the Internet. He also recommended using the Internet to scope out Cal-OSHA requirements.

“They have a very good website, some really good information,” he said.

Passarella said considerable emphasis is being placed on heat illness, and growers should have training programs and outlines for emergency procedures — including how to direct emergency responders to the work site.

A relatively new emphasis this year is on “confined spaces” such as standpipes because of a spate of 13 deaths last year.

Growers should also have a speed limit for their farms, he said. He also emphasized a need for rollover protective structures, seatbelts, shields for moving parts and avoidance of riders on tractors.