19 OCT 2022

Putting the spotlight on effective de-suckering of vines in McLaren Vale

Using Spotlight Plus®, a specifically formulated herbicide to control wine grape suckers and weeds, has proven to be an excellent management option for growers in the McLaren Vale region of South Australia.
Sam Donaldson DJS growers viticulture

Sam Donaldson, of DJ Grower Services at McLaren Vale, said many growers were utilising Spotlight Plus® from FMC for effective sucker control as it employs far less manual labour.

He said Spotlight Plus® had traditionally been used in his own vineyard and worked particularly well standalone in controlling unwanted suckers near the base of the plants.

"We have Shiraz and Merlot varieties and a single pass of Spotlight Plus® in a tank mix with a herbicide like Basta also did an excellent job with under vine weed control."

Mr Donaldson said the tractor with a spray rig and two jets on the side would move through the vineyard at six kilometres per hour and within a short period of time the job was done.

When comparing this to manually cutting each sucker with a knife or electric snips, the herbicide option saves considerable time, labour and money.

“We usually go through with Spotlight Plus® at the labelled rate of 300 mL per 100 L water, sprayed to the point of runoff, in mid to late November. McLaren vale is high rainfall area, and we don’t get a lot of growth until a bit later,” Mr Donaldson said.

“I’ll wait until the suckers are 100 mm in length and then apply Spotlight Plus®. If you go too early, you might miss some of the shoots.”

The mode of action of Spotlight Plus® means it will be readily absorbed by green leaves but will not translocate within the plant to roots or unsprayed leaves.

The active constituent in Spotlight Plus® (carfentrazone-ethyl) interacts with the plant’s photosynthetic system to form highly active molecules. These compounds rupture the plant cell membranes resulting in the cell contents leaking out which effectively destroys the treated area.

Mr Donaldson said Spotlight Plus® also has a built-in adjuvant system.

“This component reduces the chance of off-target spray drift.

“Other products can be harder to use and aren’t quite as simple as Spotlight®.”

“Every year we have two or three people coming into the store that have used another product and often as a result have shoots that are showing herbicide damage.

“Other options can also be more likely to cause off target damage through drift if the spraying doesn’t quite go to plan.”

He said the mix of Spotlight Plus® with a knockdown herbicide also worked particularly well for weed control under the vines.

Basta Herbicide at 3 L per hectare and Spotlight Plus® at 300 mL per hectare worked particularly well on his vineyard when targeting broadleaf weeds at a water rate of 500 L per hectare.

Mr Donaldson said Spotlight Plus® was an excellent dual-purpose product for vineyards in McLaren Vale because of its excellent efficacy on unwanted suckers and weeds, saving on time, labour and money. It also provides far greater crop safety compared to many other options due to its non-volatile chemistry and built in adjuvant system.

This editorial was written by Elders supplier FMC for Seasons magazine.

Please note: this article contains information of a general nature, and does not take into account your personal objectives, situation or needs. Before acting on any information, you should consider the appropriateness of the information provided, and seek advice on whether it is fit for your circumstances.