Vine mealybug is still spreading throughout the county. So it‘s good to be on the lookout and aware of any new infestations, often indicated by sooty mold or excessive honeydew in clusters, spurs or cordons. A high degree of ant activity in and around vines can also indicate problem spots. Good places to begin looking before harvest are where birds tend to roost. Good news lately has been the re-registration of an effective control material, along with several newer options.

With more habitat areas and native/natural landscapes, less use of residual herbicides and increased tolerance for weeds, it is more important than ever to monitor and to control some of the more noxious and troublesome weeds before they seed. Besides mare‘s tail and fleabane, yellow starthistle is also more of a problem along roadsides and it requires attention or it will dominate mowed areas, row middles, and habitats.

For many varieties such as Pinot grigio, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon blanc, Zinfandel, Colombard, even Chardonnay, and the newcomer Pinot noir; demand is good and prices may improve slightly. The demand for Cabernet Sauvignon is dramatically improved and Merlot is less of a concern, especially as the crop is below average.

The number of small wineries grows and with more labels along with more medals, everyone benefits from recognition for all the hard work and risk. The county as a whole and the Lodi District in particular continues to confirm the region to be a good place to grow quality fruit for quality wines, which are a value, in spite of the challenges to comply with new regulations while controlling costs. The economy will determine how good a year 2010 turns out to be with regard to returns, but quality is excellent and the long-term still bright.

Good luck as 2010 winds down.

Fall checklist

• If the weather stays dry, post harvest irrigation to help maintain soil moisture is more than okay until rains are steady.

• Little to no nitrogen should be applied now, but potassium now (or early next year) is okay. It won‘t move like nitrogen. To get full benefit of compost, it needs to be disked in.

• Make a note of any problem weed species that may be increasing.

• Mark any vines with excessive red leaves and/or leaf roll for monitoring of fruit quality next year or for possible removal before then.

• Renew your Ag Waiver Discharge membership.

• Update your air pollution mitigation plan if you have 100 acres or more in a single vineyard.

• Also, review your pesticide use reports and get every-thing up to date as there is continued interest to keep agriculture accountable for problems real and perceived.

• For VMB, Lorsban (chlorpyrifos) post harvest can help keep it checked until the summer control program. The new material Movento has performed well in research trials as a post harvest alternative. Be careful of sprays before a storm, especially near natural drains and waterways.

• Gophers, voles and squirrel activity are still common and may deserve attention with baits, gas cartridges, fumigant pellets (usually better in spring), trapping, shooting, or a combination of several of the methods. Remember ground squirrels are fair game, tree squirrels require a depredation permit. Owl boxes can help stabilize rodent populations, but do not control them.