“Growers tend to underestimate the importance of water as the delivery system of nutrient minerals to the vine,” she continues. “We often compare our growing techniques to the French viticulture practice of no water inputs.  However, not getting enough water is as bad as getting too much in terms of quality impact on the fruit.” 

This month, she’ll continue treating her vineyards to protect against powdery mildew. She started with a dormant lime-sulfur spray in late January and early February. “It helps even out the playing field by removing a lot of the fungal spores before they have a chance to come out in the spring,” Foxx notes.

After bud break, she switches to JMS stylet oil, “I like to use an eradicant, like this, early in the season, instead of a suppressant, to eliminate the powdery mildew spores as they first come out,” she says.

Later, she’ll treat the vineyards, as needed, with fungicides to control the disease. She’ll include an early-season foliar application of micro nutrients with these sprays.

Last year, yields in the Santa Cruz Mountains were 30 percent or more above average, Foxx reports. Because of the favorable weather last spring, production could also be up this year or at least normal, she adds.

Foxx annually does a winter bud analysis to determine the number of viable fruit buds on her vines. “Based on the results, I don’t expect yields to be spectacular this year,” she says. “But, they don’t look bad, either.”

Growers in her area are upbeat about their crop prospects for 2013 at bud break. “With the beautiful weather, everyone is really optimistic,” Foxx says. “Despite concerns about water, which is something we’ll have to pay attention to, it looks to be a very promising season. The growers here in the Santa Cruz Mountains are making tremendous strides in improving the quality of their fruit. They’re pruning, keeping the fruit and foliage clean with good, sound spray programs and they’re managing canopies to provide their grapes proper exposure to sunlight.”

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