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Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

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Project name Taking grapevine yield forecasting into the digital age
Funding bodies Supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program $435,000
Chief Investigators Dr Jo Jones
Contributors Shaw+Smith Vineyard, Lastek

This project aims to develop a new technique for grapevine yield forecasting that will fill a major knowledge gap and enhance the growth of Australia’s wine industry.

Currently, the ability to accurately forecast yields in the vineyard during winter dormancy is a key challenge that has been identified by Wine Australia and Wine Tasmania.

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.

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

How is yield currently predicted?

Early yield prediction currently requires destructive sampling of canes from the vine. An expert then conducts 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.

This method is both time consuming and expensive, and destroys the buds they may want to keep.

Industry benefits

This project aims to support wine growers to make informed pruning decisions resulting in an improved ability to reach target yields. The digital tool will provide greater accuracy in yield prediction and reduce economic losses due to late season bunch removal or reduced prices due to excessively high yields.

Chief Investigator  Dr Jo Jones