Study: Remote Sensing of Weeds on Vineyards Has Merit

Aerial Sensing Of Weeds Saves Time and Labor

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

There is a potential use of remote sensing with drones and vineyard weed management. Working on that research is Cody Drake, a senior at California State University, Fresno. He’s working with Luca Brillante, an assistant professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. Anil Shrestha is chair and professor, also in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at Fresno State. Drake’s research is at a vineyard in Napa County.

“The goal of my research is to make weed management practices in vineyards a little more efficient,” Drake said.

Currently, there is a lot of manpower, money, and time going into scouting for weeds and spraying.

“What we did with the drone is we wanted to map high-pressure weed zones to target spray in the field instead of spraying the entire field,” Drake explained.

This aerial scouting is hoping to become more efficient for time and labor.

“It’s all based on imagery. The drone gives us waypoints as to the areas where we need to spray. We have a company that’s called Drone Deploy, and they go through, and they stitch all the photos together,” Drake said.

Drake’s research has only been on vineyards so far, and his research has been proven to work.

“We did a 30-meter flight and a 10-meter flight, and that just shows the difference in how close you can get to identifying weeds species on the ground at a 30 meter height,” he said.

At 30 meters, it was very hard to tell which species was which. At 10 meters, the weeds were more identifiable.

“We would prefer to do another trial with a higher resolution camera. That way we can see the species, identify them a little easier and a little more efficiently,” Drake said.

By doing this, Drake and his team can pinpoint where the heavyweights are and just go spray that one area. For future research, they are going to try a camera with higher resolution to see if it can see through a denser vineyard.

Idea to Reduce Glyphosate Use with Grapes

Use Glyphosate When Absolutely Needed

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

There is an effort underway to minimize glyphosate use before bud break in grapes. It doesn’t need to be used all the time. A lot of annual weeds can be controlled with several herbicides. Keep the glyphosate for hard to control perennials.

John Roncoroni, a UC Cooperative Extension Weed Science Farm Advisor in Napa County, has made strides toward meeting this challenge. Many times, growers will do two applications of herbicides during the year … but what I’m trying to do is push it back to post-leaf fall after the season to clean up and come back with a pre-emergent material right before bud break then maybe skip that last glyphosate treatment after bud break.

Roncoroni explained that the idea is for grower not to use glyphosate on weeds during the growing season.

Reserve Glyphosate for tough weeds such as field bindweed.

Roncoroni mentioned that he works with school districts and municipalities, and there are many of them want to ban the use of glyphosate.

“It’s not so much the glyphosate molecule; it’s that we have all used so much of it over the years,” he said. “Rely on preemergent materials early in the season and reserve glyphosate as a clean up at the end of the season.”

“My philosophy when I talk to people is to not ban it but to save it for needed use. Maybe we pretend that there are no herbicide alternatives available. We have annual grasses that are easy to kill, then use an alternative herbicide for that. But when you have weeds where you need that systemic benefit of glyphosate, then use it. It is a good molecule, and it has an important fit in weed control, but it does need to be used all the time,” Roncoroni said.

And of course, reading and following the herbicide label will maintain its safety.

Wineries Need Business after Napa & Sonoma Fires

Following Disastrous Fires, Napa/Sonoma Valleys Need Visitors Back

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The recent Napa & Sonoma fires have left wine country reeling.

“Our message is, please come back to the wine country,” said John Winkelhaus, vice president of operations and general manager of V. Sattui Winery, the number one visited winery in Napa Valley.

The region just had some devastating fires.

“It was absolutely dramatic. We certainly just have heartfelt feelings for the folks that have lost their homes and their businesses. And of course, you can’t measure the sorrow we feel for those who lost their lives,” Winkelhaus said.

Sonoma and Napa counties were hit pretty hard. Sonoma County was perhaps worse than Napa because of the devastation that was in that residential area.

It rained last Thursday, the fire was put out and the smoke was washed out of the sky, but now there’s another problem.

“It cleared the air. I mean, we have beautiful blue skies here. But visitor traffic is way down,” Winkelhaus said. “We always have a lot of complaints about the traffic here in the Valley, especially on weekends. But there’s no traffic here.”

“So, what’s happened is that the people, our guests, our visitors who we depend on, allow our staff to come to work every day. They’re not coming,” he said.

“Everybody has a mortgage or rent to pay, or food to buy, or bills to pay as well. … In Napa Valley, 70% of the wage earners are earning their money through the hospitality business, whether it’d be the restaurants, or the hotels, or the wineries,” Winkelhaus said.

“There are 500 wineries in the area, and only seven were damaged or destroyed by the fire. So 447 are open for business and need business,” he explained.

 

California Weed Science Society Meeting

California Weed Science Society Meeting

By Charmayne Hefley, Associate Editor

The California Weed Science Society (CWSS) held their annual meeting in Sacramento from January 13-15, 2016. The meeting fostered collaboration between Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) and farmers as they gathered to learn the newest innovations in weed science.

John Roncoroni, weed science farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension in Napa County, as well as the outgoing CWSS president, said four Fresno State students gave presentations at the meeting on their research. “We’ve had really great student participation—the amount of student scholarships we’ve given is up this year, the posters, the students and our attendance this year is up,” Roncoroni said. Pre-registration was about 530 people.

CWSS LogoRoncoroni suspects that rain pushed people to attend, “becausewith that rainwe’re looking at more weeds this year. So people are looking for the newest information on weeds. This year’s conference really has done a really good job of putting that information together. Kate Walker, our program chair, has really done a fine job of putting together a great program.”

Kate Walker, technical service representative for BASF Corporation, is also the new, incoming CWSS president.

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Links:

California Weed Science Society (CWSS)

The CWSS recently updated its published textbook, Principles of Weed Control, 4th Edition, that focuses on the applied aspects of weed control.  The purpose of this textbook is to provide access to the fundamental principles and concepts of weed management in California. The book is designed for use at the college level by students who have an interest in pursuing a plant science or associated background of course work. It is also a useful resource for individuals studying to become PCAs and applicators or for consultants who work in weed science. For more information, go to the CWSS website Publications page.

Appellations Beyond Napa . . .

Grower Andy Beckstoffer on Lake and Mendocino County Appellations

By Charmayne Hefly, Associate Editor

When people discuss California wine, they most commonly associate it as having been grown and produced in Napa. However, Napa isn’t the only northern county to grow grapes that become iconic California wines.Lake County Winegrape Commission

Andy Beckstoffer, owner of Rutherford-based Beckstoffer Vineyards, owns more than 3,000 acres of premium winegrapes. He began his own vineyard in the 1970s in Mendocino and Napa counties before expanding into Lake County as well.

Beckstoffer said that Lake and Mendocino counties were some of the most promising new wine districts in the new world of wine. He ought to know; the California Association of Winegrape Growers named Beckstoffer 2015 Grower of the Year last month.

“Mendocino County has consistently produced some of the best Chardonnay for years,” Beckstoffer said. “We started back in the 1970s, and they continue to do it in the Red Hills of Lake County. The appellation, Red Hills Lake County AVAis where we’re producing Cabernet at a reasonable price–North Coast Cabernet. It’s really the most promising new wine district in the new world of wine because it is encompassed by the vast North Coast AVA,” Beckstoffer said, “and the quality has been proven to be excellent.”

The North Coast AVA encompasses smaller appellations in six counties north of San Francisco: Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Solano. Lake County AVAs