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Let’s eradicate powdery mildew

If Powdery Mildew was Polio or Tuberculosis we would have eradicated it from grape vines decades ago! So now we get to the good (challenging) part of this story. Peter Magarey is one of the (very) few plant pathologists specialising in grape vines still practicing in regional Australia and he’s right here in the Riverland. Peter has played a key role in the CropWatch story for 25 years and despite advancing Parkinson’s Disease he is still the chief author. It is Peter that we all turn to for an interpretation of almost any weather event during the growing season. It is only through his determination to continuously improved the service that the recent features have been developed around GrowCare and especially the new ‘mobile-phone-connect’ feature.

In a recent discussion on his favourite topic, Peter was asked the question: Could we aradicate powdery mildew?

Absolutely YES was the quick response. There’s no room in this column today to open the debate but it will be opened very soon. Thanks to the SAMDB NRM Board and the enthusiasm of Jeremy Nelson, Chris Bennett and Peter M, the region now has far and away the most comprehensive Automatic Weather Station (AWS) network in the country, if not the globe. With the integration of the Riverland Wine and the NRM weather stations, Riverland Winegrowers will be served by no less than 29 AWS’s. That will advance the capability of the GrowCare service and put it in the midst of ‘Precision Viticulture’. Messages to growers will be triggered from the nearest station across the region.

That capability plus the vast amount of data streaming to and from the VitiVisor dashboards being developed by the Hands off Hectares teams of scientists over the next two and a half years will encourage more growers to have the confidence to reduce fungicide sprays and Peter says move down the pathway towards elimination of powdery from vines.

Work out how much you could save in a season if you only sprayed half as much? That number should motivate even the most hesitant grower to get involved and make this another Riverland first.

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