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“Without rain we’ve seen our yields fall quiet significantly” | Winemakers forced to adapt to drought

It’s usually an exciting time of the year for wine grape growers, with vineyards prepped and buds about to burst.

In the drought hit Hunter Valley, winemakers are being forced to adapt to on going dry conditions to ensure their vines are healthy to tackle another long summer.

Keith Tulloch Wine Winemaker Alisdair Tulloch told Macquarie’s Rural Reporter Eddie Summerfield, production has been hampered by the dry spell, and warmer days.

“Without rain we’ve seen our yields fall quiet significantly across the whole Hunter region,” Mr Tulloch said.

“The vines come out of their dormancy sooner, and then they actually ripen faster on the vine due to the high number of heat degree days, and also increased Co2 in the atmosphere, that means every year our vintage moves forward by about 0.8 days.”

The winery has been looking at ways improve soil composition, so it can hold more water.

“Something I’ve been working on is trying to restore the soil organic carbon through cover crops, and using organic fertilisers, that means we can potentially hold more water in the soil by increasing the soil organic carbon,” Mr Tulloch said.

“We plant vegetables, and legumes particularly cover crops, in the vineyard mid rows, that means we can draw down nitrogen and carbon from the atmosphere where it breaks down in the soil, providing nutrients for the plants, and also increase the water holding capacity.”

Listen to full interview above where Alisdair and Eddie also discuss carbon neutral farming, and the outlook for the 2020 vintage.

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