Now is the time to prepare for harvest. All the hard work bringing the vines from pruning to fruition is nearly complete. The next two months are the culmination of all this work. Irrigation is still a vital activity. Although the season so far has been mild we can still expect long periods of very hot weather. February is usually our hottest month. Adequate water is needed to ensure maximum leaf function: to ripen grapes as quickly as possible and make sure vines are in the best condition for next year.
Baume sampling is one of the most important activities leading up to harvest. Sampling should be thorough, accurately representing the ripeness of the patch. Wineries can impose penalties for inaccurate results or if the load does not meet minimum sugar levels. Baume tests should be conducted weekly or even twice weekly as harvest nears.
Other activities such as making sure final spray diary forms have been sent to the winery, getting PMS supplies and grape delivery advice books are all part of harvest preparation.
Harvester set up and operation is vital to make sure vine damage is minimal and MOG is minimised. Excessive MOG can attract significant penalties and can be avoided by attention to the operation of the harvester. Make sure you discuss this issue with the harvest operator before commencing harvest.