Smaller, but sweeter: Russian growers expect a good harvest in spite of the vagaries of the weather

TASS, August 28. Growers Kuban, Crimea and Dagestan – of the leading regions for the production of grapes in Russia is expecting to harvest not less than last year, despite adverse weather conditions with which farmers had to face in the spring and early summer.

This year, according to agro-industries and academics on the productivity of vineyards in the South of Russia and the Caucasus was affected by spring frosts, summer heat, and in some cases, the field has damaged the castle and sat down.

Now the grape harvest is in full swing. Industry experts say that the berry this year due to weather vagaries will be smaller, but sweeter than before.

Optimistic forecast

The Ministry of agriculture and processing industry of the Krasnodar region, which occupies the first place in Russia by quantity of grapes grown, noted that in 2016, the region was harvested a record crop of 237 million tonnes (46% of the total harvested in Russia grapes). Of them less than 20 thousand tons are table grapes, the rest is technical that is used in winemaking.

The average yield on the edge a year earlier was 107 quintals per hectare.

The head of the relevant division of the North Caucasian Federal research centre for horticulture, viticulture, winemaking (Krasnodar, Russia) Valery Petrov told TASS that this year the experts expect the harvest close to last year’s volumes “or a little less.”

“I don’t think there will be a large reduction of 10-15 percent. If you look in the dynamics is normal. Last year was a record year. The winter was good. Summer conditions were favorable. This year, 2016 and 2017, almost the same,” he said.

Approximately the same situation in the Republic of Crimea. In the regional Ministry of agriculture TASS reported that the gross harvest in 2017 is expected to reach 2016, when it was collected was 56.3 thousand tons of fruit with an average yield of 35.4 tons per hectare. About 90% of the grapes grown in the country, is the technical grade.

Dagestan is a new record

In Dagestan, which is in second place in Russia on volumes of growing grapes, I hope that I will beat last year’s record. In 2016, the region collected record for the last 31 years harvest of about 150 thousand tons. This year, celebrate the national Ministry of agriculture and food, is planned to collect 155 thousand tons of grapes. In the structure of gross yield of grapes 65% technical grade, 35% – on table.

In the Republic noted that to increase the grape yield is possible due to agrotechnical measures, protection of crop from diseases and pests, and favorable weather conditions, in particular mild winters.

Interviewed by the TASS representatives of the wineries also believe that the harvest of 2017 will be close to last year. For example, in the agricultural firm “Zolotaya Balka” reported that this year’s harvest volumes will be approximately equal to the indices of 2016, that is expected to collect about 4.2 thousand tons. While it is too early to talk about the quality and characteristics of grapes this year.

Spring frosts

Experts of the Kuban and Crimea say that the weather in the season 2016-2017 gave many surprises to the growers. According to Petrov, winter for grapes was favourable. In this atypical decrease in temperature in spring had a negative impact on crop delayed development of fetuses, and in some cases, significantly decreased weight of the bunch.

Best cold suffered domestic varieties. Hardest hit Western European and hybrid, which have an early maturation process. And table grapes are more sensitive to frost than technical ones, which are then used for winemaking.

“Warm weather in April, triggering an early start of the growing season, was replaced by a sharp cold snap and even snow. The vineyards of Massandra, for example, spring frosts do not hurt, but the rest of the viticulture farms got – that was a freezing of kidneys”, – told TASS Yanina Pavlenko, the Chairman of the Board of the Association of winegrowers and winemakers of the Crimea and the General Director of “Massandra” is the largest Russian enterprise for growing grapes and producing wines.

Representatives of some of the vineyards also note that due to frosts had for a period of from several days to two weeks to move the date of harvest. In particular, this was stated in the Sevastopol “Golden Beam” and Kuban Agrofirm “South” (one of Russia’s largest owners of vineyards).

Summer storm

The Director of “Phanagoria-agro” (part of wine-growing complex “Fanagoria”, one of the largest in Russia) Vladimir Spacebank notes that are located in the Kuban vineyards of his company this year suffered from hail. However, the main blow fell on areas of table grapes growing near the grapes for premium wine remained intact.

The storm invaded the Crimean vineyards. “In June, in the period of mass flowering vine established rainy weather. This had a negative impact on pollination. In July, in some farms the harvest was damaged by hail”, – said the head of the Association of Crimean winegrowers Pavlenko.

In addition, for the “Massandra”, according to her, the most difficult month was August – 18-August came down near the town of Sudak mudflow damaged the vineyards of the two branches of the company.

“Accurate data we learn after a more detailed examination, but, according to operational information of our Agroservice, the mudflow has damaged 80 hectares of vineyards in the branch “perch”, and grad – about 90 acres of the branch “Marine” [in all, the farm is about 4 hectares of vineyards]. I really hope that the trials will end, we are no force majeure will gather the harvest”, – said the Agency interlocutor.

Heat and drought

Growers say that the harvest may be affected and drought. “But the latest forecasts say that the rain needs to go, and so it too should have no major impact [on crops] – still not passed the critical point,” said Spasiano, telling about conditions in the Krasnodar region.

Meanwhile, the agronomist of the agricultural “South” Maxim Gruner noted that in the crop of this company drought will affect more seriously – its vineyards are located on the Taman Peninsula of the Kuban, where this summer there was virtually no rainfall.

The same opinion and Pavlenko. “In August, in the Crimea was established abnormally hot weather, the grapes reacts burns on grapes, shrivelling of berries. The quality of the wine though it is not affected, but the gross – Yes,” she said.

Employee of the North Caucasus Federal scientific center Valery Petrov believes that established in early August in the South of Russia will bring the heat for vineyards and their bonuses. “Heat, on the contrary, good for accumulation of sugar. Will contribute to genetic characteristics of varieties,” added Petrov, noting that the berries of table grapes will be more sweet and bright.

Renewal and care

However, not everything depends on the weather conditions, experts say. Plays a significant role and proper care of vineyards. Pavlenko, speaking about the situation in the Crimea, notes that external factors are more likely to suffer weakened, the old vineyards. And now on the Peninsula such “more than enough” – 46% of vineyards older than 25 years.

In recent years new vineyards in the Crimea laid, however, those vines that were planted in 2015-2016, after the reunification of the Crimea with Russia, will begin to bear fruit only in 2020, and thus on productivity in the coming years will not be affected.

The Dagestani authorities in the development of viticulture rely just on the rejuvenation of the plantations. “Since 2013 in the Republic annually is laid almost on 2 thousand hectares of new vineyards. To ensure growers own grape planting material grown by about 2 million pieces of certified seedlings of the desired varietal composition and affordable price segment”, – reported in the Ministry of agriculture and food of the Republic.

Specialists of the company “Abrau-Durso” (one of the leaders of the market of sparkling wines, Russian Federation) this year, the first in the Kuban began to use drip irrigation system for large areas.

“Water from the wells in the vineyards is served through a network of tubes to each vine. The system is controlled by computer. This year we have equipped it of the vineyards, the planned dissemination of technology for all 600 hectares that we have,” – said TASS representative of the Russian wine house “Abrau-Durso”.

The interviewee also said that this year the company expects high crop quality. “In terms of planned to collect the same as last year,” she added. In addition, experts note that the harvest always reflects the previous year. If the summer of 2016 was hot and dry, and the harvest is high, plants are unable to accumulate the resources that would allow them to increase their productivity this season.

Berry less, but better

The majority of experts notes that, if conditions in 2017 and will have a negative impact on the quantity of the harvest, it just will not worsen its quality. For example, the development Director of young Crimean enterprises Alma Valley Aleksey Sapsay believes that the harvest of 2017 will be one of the best in the last five years.

“We have touched only a small spring frosts. On some varieties such as Syrah, Merlot, due to this, the yield will be lower, which, however, only a plus for the quality of wine. In General, however, a cool spring, abundant precipitation have shifted the cycle of vine growth that will lead to more late ripening in the cooler period. This picture is also very positive impact on the quality of the wines this year”, – he said.

Specialist of scientific center of horticulture, viticulture, winemaking Petrov also believes that the grapes of 2017 promises to be of high quality. However, according to him, the harvest of grapes of technical grades, the main harvest which occurs in September, to a large extent will depend on the weather conditions of August and the beginning of autumn: it is important for them high in sugar, and it accumulates in large variations of temperatures when the days are hot and the nights cool.