The grape season is on schedule in Kern County, with few surprises. The only real problem so far has been thrips, according to Gary Osteen, independent PCA at Bakersfield, Calif.

“It has been a really heavy year for thrips,” he says. “The adult population has been huge. Almost everyone was spraying during bloom to make sure they don’t get berry scarring.”

Bloom is almost finished, Osteen says. The recent heat spike didn’t have much impact on the crop except to speed development. Even the earlier frost didn’t set the crop back as much as originally thought.

“There was scattered frost damage, but it was very spotty and wasn’t too severe in most cases,” he says.

It has been a fairly light year for powdery mildew — not only in the southern San Joaquin Valley — but around the state. “In the last week or so, all the models have been indicating that it could get more active,” Osteen says. “We’relooking for it, and we’re making sure we’re well protected, but so far we haven’t seen it in the grapes. Roses, however, are loaded with mildew.”

That’s pretty much the situation across the state, according to Doug Gubler, UC Davis plant pathologist. “So far, I have heard no reports of mildew,” he says. “It looks like it’s going to be a late year.”

For the most part, the crop looks promising early, Osteen says. “Right now, I’d say it’s a little bit better than last year.”