More than 40 people from Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota attended the UNL Mechanization and More Viticulture Field Day held at Old Cellar Vineyard on July 16 in Arapahoe, Nebraska. Owner Gary Thompson and his staff were the consummate hosts, according to University of Nebraska Viticulture Program Director Paul Read.
“It was generally agreed that this was one the best field days many had attended and that more of the same should be contemplated for the future,” Read said.
Read welcomed the participants and presented an overview of the day’s program, followed by Thompson discussing Old Cellar Vineyard’s history and special features. Thompson also commented on the rationale and implementation of several aspects of mechanization and its benefits to the practical grape grower.
Field day attendees learned about sap sampling, fertigation and the Old Cellar Vineyard foliar feeding program, discussed by Melinda Eichenberger, Old Cellar Vineyard assistant manager.
Attendees were then treated to a walking tour of the vineyards and many indicated they were impressed by the excellent fruit set and relatively disease-free vines and clusters, which Thompson and Eichenberger attributed, in part, to their use of the ozone sprays, along with their nutrition program.
A Braud Harvester was on display, along with the Netter Getter, leaf puller, posts made from recycled plastic and other equipment intended to reduce the need for labor.
The program concluded with a discussion about mechanization challenges and opportunities, led by Thompson and Stephen Gamet, UNVP technologist, following up with many grower questions and a lively discussion.
“They facilitated a program that led to many positive comments on the evaluations,” Read said. Following the field day, all attendees noted they had increased their knowledge in various viticulture categories and over 70 percent indicated they plan to implement one or more vineyard practices differently as a result of what they learned.