The Critical Importance of Sampling in Grape Production
Understanding the physical and chemical properties of the soil and water in which vines grow is critical for effective management of inputs and the diagnosis of potential issues in your vineyard. Following a regular sampling schedule provides valuable data in season and an opportunity to observe trends year over year. With a Grape Wise™ plan tailored to your vineyard, Helena consultants will provide educational tools, agronomic information and expert recommendations throughout the growing season. Utilizing our AGRIntelligence® program, you will receive industry-leading precision offerings with our HyGround®, AquaLenz® and Extractor® sampling reports.
Soil sampling is a key first step in grape production, whether you are developing a new vineyard, replanting a block or developing a yearly fertility budget or program. Helena typically recommends sampling the soil every two to three years to establish new baselines for soil nutrient and salinity values. Choosing the correct sampling location will also help give the most accurate picture possible. With Helena’s HyGround soil mapping system, we can identify changes in the soil profile and create soil management zones for smart sampling, rather than taking random samples in the field. Once samples are pulled and georeferenced, results are uploaded into our agronomy platform, AI360®, and stored for easy access throughout the season. Our agronomists take the soil sample results and use them to build prescriptive programs throughout the season for your vineyard.
Water is the largest input in most grape operations. It ties all aspects of crop production together by playing a key role in nutrient management, irrigation efficiency, salinity management and pesticide efficacy. Helena’s AquaLenz water sample reports address all these issues in a simple, easy-to-understand report. Water reports can be very complex, and interpretation is often difficult. AquaLenz simplifies this process by highlighting the problem areas (salinity, nitrogen, bicarbonates, pH, etc.) and recommending solutions. Helena recommends growers take a water sample every season, especially if they are using ground water sources, because water chemistry can change from year to year.
Tissue sampling is the final key component in grape production. Soil and water samples tell us what’s in “the bank”. Tissue samples tell us what the plant is actually able to withdraw. Measuring the nutrient values in grape tissue allows us to evaluate the effectiveness of your fertility programs and identify areas for improvement. Helena recommends a minimum of two tissue samples be taken over the course of the season. The first should be taken pre-bloom from the leaf, opposite the basal cluster. The second should be taken when the berries are BB size, from the first mature leaf on the shoot. Taking whole leaves (petiole + blade) is encouraged, but there are also petiole-only tests and blade-only tests. Helena’s Extractor tissue reporting system is similar to our AquaLenz reports. Extractor takes tissue sample data and presents it in an easy-to-understand report to highlight deficiencies and recommend solutions. These reports are stored in our AI360 system for future use and comparison.
To learn more about the importance of sampling in grape production and develop a Grape Wise program, contact your local Helena Representative.
- Paul W. Crout, CCA, PCA, Helena Senior Product Manager and Agronomist