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 had several hot periods with high water use, and water budgets being thoroughly tested, we can still expect long periods of very hot weather, with February usually the hottest month. Adequate water is necessary 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 and performed to accurately represent the ripeness of the patch. If the patch is large or uneven, perform multiple samples to get a good feel for each block. 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, in the cool of the day and with properly calibrated equipment.
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 limited. 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.