The switch away from mechanical to chemical sucker control has rewarded Griffith viticulturalist and contractor Steven Barbon with major savings.
Mr Barbon has 90 acres of grapevines on a property just south of Griffith, in the Riverina region of New South Wales.
Suckers are an annual problem in the vines and historically were manually removed with machetes or knives.
“We were out in the heat, had issues with snakes and had to be careful that we didn’t cut any drip tape. I think it was costing us about $10,000 in labour to go across our 90 acres.”
In more recent times, Mr Barbon purchased a Pastro Custom Ag De-suckering Vineyard Sprayer and has been applying Spotlight Plus® Herbicide from FMC, ever since.
“It now takes about one and a half days to do the 90 acres with just two containers of Spotlight Plus®.”
He said the machine had an electric eye that identified the trunk of the vine and then sprayed down to the base.
Spotlight Plus® is generally used from mid-October through to early November and is applied when a few suckers first appear in the vineyard.
“It does a really good job controlling unwanted suckers,” he said.
“We have had really good results. I can spray in the morning and by the afternoon you can see the green tissue of the suckers starting to wilt.”
The herbicide is used on a wide range of wine grape varieties including Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Merlot on the home block.
Mr Barbon also contracts to other vineyards in the area and uses the de-suckering sprayer and Spotlight Plus® on the other properties as well.
“I recommend Spotlight Plus® because I’m getting such good results from it on my own grapevines.”
Spotlight Plus® is also registered for use in tank mixes with knockdown herbicides to control a range of broadleaf weeds under vines and certain tree crops.
“We also use it through the boom spray with Basta herbicide as it will increase the speed of control and effectiveness on weeds such as marshmallow, wild radish, capeweed and Paterson’s curse.
Elders Griffith Horticultural Agronomist, Steve Hirst, said Spotlight Plus® was widely used in the area to de-sucker vines and for general weed control.
“It is a quicker and more cost-effective option and, as it is a purpose-built low-drift formulation, it is very safe.”
Steve Hirst, Horticultural Agronomist, Elders Griffith.
He said Spotlight Plus® was absorbed by the green shoots but didn’t move up or down in the plant so only controlled the areas directly hit by the herbicide.
“It is a very good option on the market.”
Spotlight Plus® is uniquely suitable for sucker control with its mode of action making it highly effective on treated areas and safe to unsprayed leaves.
It is absorbed by green leaves and stems and there is no translocation to the roots or to other areas of the plant, and no residual activity in the soil.
The active constituent in Spotlight Plus® (carfentrazone-ethyl) is a unique, herbicidal molecule that interacts with the plant’s photosynthetic system to form highly reactive compounds. These compounds rupture the plant cell membranes resulting in the cell contents leaking out which causes rapid cell death.
This mode of action relies on photosynthesis, so sunlight is essential for expression of the product’s herbicidal activity.
Spotlight Plus® is registered for sucker control in grapevines, olives, tree fruits and tree nuts.
This editorial was written by Elders supplier FMC.
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