Balnaves have 16 frost control sites under management.
We have a private weather station network that we run as part of our commitment to managing these vineyards. This network of weather stations, radio links in to a central point and is designed to send messages out at low temperatures starting at 2 degrees above and going to 2 degrees below. On areas without frost control we monitor soil moisture and weather conditions. Generally, we try to keep mid rows cut low. This allows sunlight to penetrate into the soil and increase soil temperature whereas broad leafs tend to stop the sunlight getting in.
We are also aware from some work done in 2006 that in a drought situation mowing the grass low has very little beneficial effect. In fact, 20cm long grass seemed to create more heat than bear ground.
“Balnaves have nearly all of the pumping sites across both Coonawarra and Wrattonbully web linked. ”
Water offers the best control of frost, the new water allocation that we as a company have been deeply involved with from an industry advocate point of view came into play in June 2015. It has moved all area based licences to a volume. This limits people’s ability to be wasteful with water.
Balnaves have nearly all of the pumping sites across both Coonawarra and Wrattonbully web linked. This enables a number of things, the main advantage relating to frost is the ability to start as close to zero as possible through being able to see graphs of temperature drop. This can save a significant amount of water because the difference between starting at 2 degrees and closer to zero can be up to 2 hours – 150,000 litres or 1% of base allocation. If the average frost per year was 10, more than 10% of base allocation could be used for frost protection before the growing season had started. Balnaves have also invested in excess or spare water allocation that should a series of drought conditions exist, will be able to supply its customers with top up allocation at a nominal cost.