Grape growers throughout the region are reporting abnormal growth on young shoots. In most cases it has been caused by early damage from earwigs. In most cases earwigs are a beneficial insect, and should be left well alone. When earwigs reach epidemic proportions, as they have in many cases this season, some control may be warranted. Growers should check with their grape purchaser prior to applying controls, to ensure that an acceptable option is used. In most cases, bait applied around the base of the vine can be adequate to control numbers until shoots grow to over 100mm long. At that stage earwigs are not a problem.
As mentioned in the CropWatch message last week (September 26), conditions were marginal for downy mildew infection across the region, but given the huge variability in rainfall and soil wetness, growers would do well to monitor for the appearance of any oil spots from a primary infection. It is possible that an infection may have developed in some vineyards if conditions were suitable. If oil spots do appear, they are likely to do so in the first few days of October. If downy mildew is found, growers would do well to discuss options with their grape purchaser or adviser. Downy mildew infections early in the season can be particularly damaging and lead to later crop loss. A careful approach to early disease eradication is the best option.