Wednesday, 22 August 2018

22.8.18 The Harvest is about to Begin; Latest on Mystery Fungus

Lots of people are out in the vineyards with refractometers checking sugar levels in the grapes. In the inland vineyards, many have reached the required 10.5° Beaumé. González Byass and Grupo Estévez have already requested permission from the Consejo to start picking tomorrow, and the Coop Nuestra Señora de las Angustias and Barbadillo will probably start on Friday. The press houses are spotless and ready to receive the first grapes of 2018, most of which will be picked by machine and at night. Thirty-one press houses will process the grapes throughout the nine municipalities in the DO, the same as last year. As to the table wine producers, most are already well underway with their harvests, especially white grapes and Pinot Noir.

Grape reception and fermentation tanks at Grupo Estevez (foto:MAGonzalez,diariodejerez)

Meanwhile the Partido Popular in Cádiz has called on the Junta de Andalucía’s agriculture minister, Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, to provide more details of the mystery fungus which is causing devastation in some vineyards and which has already spread from Sanlúcar to Jerez. They want to know what the Junta is doing and what it will be doing to combat this plague without a name which is causing panic.

It seems, however, that the Junta has been working on the problem for the last year after being alerted by growers to the high mortality rate in their vines, particularly young ones of about 3 years of age especially in vineyards which had been restructured (replanted, change of grape variety or change in vine management). Many samples were taken and analysed and found not to be infected by Xylella Fastidiosa so they were sent to the Plant health Laboratory in Sevilla, where many were found to be infected by fungi of the genus Cilindrocarpon (or Pie Negro), a pathogen which causes disease to the wood of the vine and kills it. The fungus seems to like alkaline soils - like albariza. Now that it has been identified, hopefully treatment with phyto-fortifiers will eventually help.

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