Posted: Friday, 07 October 2022 08:36
From Archives (2007): Sula advances harvest to a record early date
Sula Wines have advanced this year’s harvest to perhaps the earliest recorded time when they started the harvest of Sauvignon Blanc in one of their vineyard plots on December 25 th – almost a month earlier than the usual 20 th January. Time for harvesting of Chenin Blanc is being advanced to 15 th January- a couple of weeks earlier than usual. Similarly the time for reds (Zin, Cab and Shiraz ) is being advanced by 2 weeks, to February 15th.
‘We have advanced the harvest primarily by better canopy management,’ says their viticulturist Dr. Neeraj Aggarwal. ‘We advanced the pruning this year to September 1 st while we normally do it around 15 th -25 th September. The vigour has been excellent this year due to perfect weather conditions,’ he added.
Although India is in the Northern hemisphere, the harvest follows the pattern in the Southern hemisphere- normally in Feb-April. Indian soil can yield 2 crops a year. Due to heavy rains in September, customarily the second crop is not harvested and the flowers on the vines are pruned away when the vines flower in March- April, according to Dr. Aggarwal who has received his doctorate from the G B Pant Agricultural University. He has been working with Sula for 4 years. Earlier, he worked with Tata who had grown wine grapes in Dindori on experimental basis.
‘The early pruning helps us advance the harvest. One day of delay in pruning means delay in harvest of 4 days. Earlier harvest would give us more time to manage our grapes and help us manage the crush better’. Out of the 110 acres cultivated by Sula (it owns 200 aces) one parcel has been already harvested. Others will be harvested during the next 10 weeks. Sula plans to crush 500 tons of its own grapes. Another 1300 tons will be crushed by the contracted farmers. The time for harvesting at the contracted sites is being advanced though only by a few days only.
‘Why don’t others follow this policy?’ I asked. ‘Earlier pruning means exposing the vines to rains which are in plenty in early September. This can cause problems of quality to teh grapes. We check this by using our experience and using the proper pesticides. I am sure the others will learn from our experience and follow our practice in a couple of years,’ replied Dr. Aggarwal.
Other growers in the Nashik area are sticking to their normal schedule. ‘though the grape farming is 40-50 years old in this belt, the farmers are not technically innovative and are slow to change their habits. Sula hopes to lead and change their habits.’
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