Monitoring Grapes in Niagra
During the 2016 season, Weather INnovations Consulting LP operated and maintained 60 ADCON weather stations in 3 grape growing appellations, Niagara, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County.
WIN performed regular maintenance throughout the OGWRI Weather Monitoring Network. Maintenance involves calibration of the rain gauges in the spring, temperature validation of temperature sensors in the fall before the ice wine harvest, system upgrades where applicable and repair work for damaged and/or delayed station during the season.
These weather stations are incorporated into the Vine and Tree Fruit Innovations website, www.vineinnovations.com that hosts raw weather data, as well as ice wine hours calculations, Bud hardiness, temperature inversion maps, rainfall, GDD (Growing Degree Days) and DSV (Disease Severity Value) models for grape growers, agronomists, organizations and researchers to access for free to monitor the current season crop.
The most popular models accessed are ice wine hours, temperature inversion maps and overnight low maps through the winter months by wineries to monitor if they need to implement protective measures for the vines. Vineinnovations.com users are able to set alerts for overnight lows to warn them when to turn the wind machines on or take frost protection actions throughout the fall and winter months. This is a vital tool and popular among wineries and researchers. Through the summer months, rainfall totals are watched closely as well. WIN also provides monthly weather summaries that are posted online at www.vineinnovations.com all year.
The ADCON weather network has allowed growers to capture the extreme drought that occurred this past summer and the warm winter currently in the Niagara region. The 2016 season started with a majority of the ice wine hours accumulated in December and January only offered a few days earlier in the month and February continuing the warmer than normal trend, making the ice wine harvest a short one. The www.vineinnovations.com site and the monthly reports were able to demonstrate that the 2016/2017 winter had been the warmest winter in the last three years for ice wine production. The Niagara stations recorded between 53 and 77 icewine hours in January 2017, compared to between 95 and 140 icewine hours in 2016. Below are two graphs produced in January 2017 comparing the number of ice wine hours in the Niagara appellation to the 2016 and 2015 January accumulations.
Niagara grapes were under stress again this summer with very little rainfall all season, accumulating almost half of the season’s normal accumulation. The lack of rain wasn’t the only issue facing grape and fruit growers but also the extreme heat. Having the weather data online allowed growers to make timely irrigation decisions.