Weather patterns thus far across California haven’t uniformly been a good indicator of mite infestations. “I haven’t seen any mites in grapes yet,” says Dave German, Wilbur-Ellis Branch Manager in Shafter. “That’s somewhat surprising since we’re already seeing mites in citrus and almonds, and you would think with the winter we had they might be more of a problem by now. We’re definitely on the outlook for them in grapes now even though they haven’t showed up there yet.”
In the Lodi area, it’s a little too early to tell about mites, according to Paul Verdegaal, San Joaquin County UC farm advisor. “Things are normal for a change,” he says. “Bud break occurred about mid-March. We’ve had slightly above normal temperatures. Last week (April 11), we got two-thirds to an inch of rain in the Lodi district which should help fill at least the upper portion of the soil profile. We were running about 60 percent of normal before the last rain event and there is another one forecast, so we still have until May to make up for the deficit.”
The Chardonnay and Merlot bunch counts are high, according to Verdegaal, which is somewhat of a mixed blessing. “It’s good for growers, maybe not necessarily the wine industry as a whole,” he says. “Zinfandel looks normal at this point.”
Growers were starting powdery mildew sprays in the area, he reports, but the recent rains served as a bit of an inconvenience for those applications. “It’s okay. We needed the rain,” he says.