Abundance of rain could be problematic for vineyards - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Abundance of rain could be problematic for vineyards

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WSIL -- This year's rain has not only kept farmers out of their fields but is also impacting local vineyards.

Mitch Klicki, Manager at Blue Sky Winery, says "Rain is beneficial here and there. However, I think what we've been getting is a bit excessive."

The abundance of rainfall- more than 4 inches above normal- has local vineyards concerned about the potential for fungal issues.

Klicki explains, "It can reduce vigor of the grapes so it'll grow less quickly so it'll grow less healthily which will in turn prevent the grapes from ripening to the extent that they can, later in the season it'll cause the grapes to rot off the vine."

The rain has employees out in muddy fields, shoot thinning, which is a continuation of pruning to prevent over growth.

Klicki says, "We've also seen a lot of vigorous growth going on, our shoots have just been growing like crazy."

Shoot thinning helps not only maintain a sustainable crop but reduces the potential for fungi.

Klicki explains, "That helps again with less busyness up in the vines, means more air penetration and that's better for reducing fungal pressure."

Spraying is another way to get a jump on fungi but more rain means more spraying and it can be costly.

Klicki says, "We have this trailer that we spray fungicides from it, it likes to slide around a bit."

Klicki explains that erosion and equipment getting stuck in the mud have also been problems this year but it could be worse. Late season rain is much more detrimental to the crops.

"That can dilute sugars within the grapes and because the way the clusters are set up there's lots of pockets for fungal growth to occur in," says Klicki.

Experts say that a while a little rain doesn't hurt grape vines thrive in hot and dry weather.

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