Taking grapevine yield forecasting into the digital age



Funding: Wine Australia

Industry supportShaw+Smith vineyard and Lastek

Dr Jo Jones is leading a project to develop a new technique that will fill a major knowledge gap in the ability to forecast yields in the vineyard during winter dormancy.

Yield prediction currently requires destructive sampling of canes from the vine.

An expert then carries out bud dissections under a microscope to see how many bunches of grapes will be produced per bud.

This information provides an estimate to the vineyard manager of the number of grape bunches that will be produced by each bud and helps them to decide how heavily to prune the vines that winter to achieve the desired crop load.

However, this bud dissection method is both time consuming and expensive.

Dr Joanna Jones has extensive experience researching bud fruitfulness via traditional microscopy techniques and is now looking to see how near infra-red spectral analysis can be used to measure bud fruitfulness.

Working with Near-Infra-Red (NIR) and modelling experts Dr Bob Dambergs from Wine TQ and Dr Thomas Rodemann from the Central Science Laboratory at the University of Tasmania, Dr Jones hopes to develop a hand-help tool that will instantly measure bud fruitfulness in the vineyard without having to cut up the bud.

Predicting bud fruitfulness has been identified as a limitation to building Australian vine and wine excellence.

Through consultation with industry this issue has been clearly identified as a future research priority for Wine Australia and Wine Tasmania.

This research is necessary for the development of a model to use multivariate analysis of spectral and hyperspectral image data to measure the fertility of a bud on the vine.

It is anticipated that such research will be the initial step to significant gains in terms of achieving target yields without the need for late season crop manipulation.

The data obtained from such research will inform pruning decisions and assist in alleviating the effects felt due to excessively high and excessively low yielding years.

The project also has significant industry support from Shaw+Smith vineyard and Lastek.