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Local growers make ‘grape’ connections

Area vineyard owners learn new techniques at 61st annual Grape Day

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:00 am

Ever wonder how changing the trellis system could improve your vineyard? Are those invasive pests still bothering Lodi vines?

These questions and more were answered at an event for those in Lodi's winegrape industry.

The 61st annual Grape Day, sponsored by the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, brought 400 local grape growers to Hutchins Street Square for a conference on the care and keeping of healthy vineyards. Seven speakers held forth on topics ranging from creating a trellis system for a machine-friendly vineyard to tactics on controlling weeds and invasive pests like the European grapevine moth and the light brown apple moth.

Roger Trinchero delivered a keynote speech on the growth of Trinchero Family Wines and his experiences in the industry.

When participants weren't learning about best vineyard practices, they enjoyed a catered lunch and wine-tasting session.

Growers and vineyard workers earned 3.5 pest control adviser hours and 3.5 Consultative Committee on Agriculture hours at the event. A certain number of those hours are required each year for workers to maintain necessary licenses. Aside from the continuing education credits, Grape Day is also a chance for growers to catch up on new information and to network with other growers.

"A lot of business gets done in the hallways," said grape grower Jonathan Wetmore.

Each talk was based on trials conducted in Lodi and the surrounding county. Experts from the U.C. Davis Cooperative Extension shared the results of a soil nutrition test conducted at four Lodi vineyards since 2009. Potassium levels are unusually low in some Lodi soils, but researchers found that strategically adding potassium to some vines can improve grape yield.

Another presentation focused on SoilWeb, a new soil-mapping resource. The California Soil Resource Lab has created an app for growers to monitor soils on the go. It links to the GPS software of a smartphone or tablet computer, and can tell the user the quality and type of soil they are currently standing in.

"It's a great opportunity for growers to catch up to the latest research, and it's all pertinent to the local area," said grower Steve Quashnick.

Growers in Lodi have a willingness to learn, and many have a willingness to share their knowledge, said Wetmore.

"It used to be that you'd drive down the road and see your neighbor doing something new, so you'd try that too. Now people recognize that we are not competing with our neighbors, we are competing with the rest of the world," said Wetmore.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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