Temps taking toll on grapes

archive_import

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

April showers brought torrential rain to the foothills.

Calaveras and Tuolumne county wine grape growers say they haven't panicked yet over waterlogged crops, but they are watching vines and clouds with wary eyes.

Last month was the ninth wettest April since The Union Democrat began keeping records in 1886. Tuolumne County officials recorded 6.01 inches, and Calaveras County received 8.63 inches. In a month that usually brings an occasional storm and warming temperatures, Mother Lode residents finished it out with umbrellas and sweaters.

That makes wine-grape growers nervous.

Dolores Mast, who tends 6 acres of grapes at Brice Station Vineyards 4 miles above Murphys said she owns the highest vineyard in Calaveras County.

"I'm pushing the limits of farming grapes here," she said. "I'm on the potential edge of danger every year."

Mast said her biggest threat isn't rain, but frost.

"Some of the plants pushed out and the shoots were killed by cold weather," she said.

Farther down the hill in Murphys, Stephen Column, president and owner of Vineyard Concepts a management and consulting company for vineyards and wineries said he's just waiting for what wet weather can bring.

"There's bugs called thrips, and they have a tendency to chew on the tips" of the plants, he said.

That gnawing could slow or stunt vine growth.

Cool springs also keep Column looking out for fungi that cause shoot rot.

"It attacks the shoot, eats through it, then the shoot breaks off," he said.

Late rains can also mean good news for weeds, which re-grow in already-treated spots, Column said.

But compared with western Sonoma county, where Column once worked, this year's precipitation is normal.

What he worries about, like Mast, is the cold.

"The people who don't have frost protection are crossing their fingers," Column said.

11503536
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Thursday August 25, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Nursed back to health, hawk flies free

08/19/2016

Sonora resident Laura Reid was driving on Tuolumne Road when she saw ... more

Sheriff’s Office responds to critical report

08/22/2016

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office has responded to a grand jury report ... more

Woman dies of injuries in Highway 120 accident

08/24/2016

The woman who spent Monday night pinned in an SUV after an ... more

Three rescued from wreck near Yosemite

08/23/2016

Three German tourists were rescued Tuesday from the scene of a crash ... more

Convicted murderer Thomas Hyatt to remain in prison

08/23/2016

Convicted murderer Thomas Hyatt won’t be getting out of prison anytime soon. ... more