Grapegrowers report predicts potential grape surplus this year

Manfred Freese, President of the B.C. Grapegrowers Association, reported on present growing and market conditions for the province’s grape industry in the spring BCGA  newsletter.

Lower yields resulted in overall good to outstanding fruit quality, in spite of the unusual growing conditions in 2010. Spotted wing Drosophila did not turn out to be as big an issue as was originally feared.

B.C. wine sales increased by 11.7 per cent over 2009, with sales of 8.9 million litres.

Fears of surpluses in some varieties are being felt by some in the industry for the 2011 growing season. An estimated crop of 28,000 tons is predicted for this year, the equivalent of 18.2 million litres. This is expected to have a negative impact on prices and may have even more serious consequences for independent growers without contracts. There are several initiatives at work to hopefully alleviate this potential problem.

The Starling Control Program trapped over 88,000 starlings last year. Funding for the program is off by $13,000 which may result in some trapping having to be curtailed if the funding shortfall isn’t corrected.

The possibility of an introduction of the Marmorated Stink Bug to Okanagan – Similkameen vineyards is a possibility this year. This pest could have an adverse effect on grapes, as it is capable of spreading rapidly and is difficult to control.

The 88,000 starlings trapped in 2010 represents a 52,000 bird increase over those trapped in 2009. The program has cumulatively trapped 364,000 over the past eight years.

Three regional districts contribute 50 per cent of the program funding. The rest is funded through fruit growers associations  and the B.C. Agriculture, Environment and Wildlife Fund contributing the remainder.

Trapping programs are effective in reducing the juvenile starling populations, which cause the most damage to crops.