Even in a great natural fruit set year ThermacultureTM treatments improved fruit set and harvest yields
Today Agrothermal Systems announced that their customers enjoyed another year of increased yields averaging 15-20% where heat was used vs. control blocks with variations depending upon location and when they were able to start treatments.
According to Marty Fischer, CEO of Agrothermal Systems, “Where we have data, our customers averaged about 15-20% higher fruit set and harvest yields in treated vs. control blocks when berries per bunch were measured at mid season. This was below last years 25-30% advantages when growers battled cool wet weather during bloom. 2016 was a good year for natural fruit set conditions as it was both drier and warmer in most California growing areas than 2015.” Agrothermal had many more machines in use and Thermaculture was used in far more locations and on more acreage than 2015. Fischer estimated that in 2016 there were about 50 growers who either had machines or working with treatments services compared to 15 in 2015 and the acreage treated was at about 3,500 acres as compared to an estimated 700 in 2015.
Scheid Vineyards in Greenfield expanded its use of the technology treating about 20% of its over 4,000-acre operation. Greg Gonzalez of Scheid said “our experience with Thermaculture has been very positive since we started in 2014 on a 20 acre trial. Each year we have seen significant advantages when we compare heat treated vs. conventional blocks. In 2016 we had four machines and covered about 750 acres with heat treatments. The quality so far has been great with wines made from Thermaculture treated grapes.”
Windy Oaks Winery in Corralitos has been suffering from low yields for several years at its high elevation Pinot Noir vineyard, but significantly increased production this season with Agrothermal’s Thermaculture. According to Windy Oaks owner, Jim Schulze “We were delighted to see our yields up about 20% where we used heat treatments. The bunches were bigger and there were clearly more berries.” Schultze did about 8 acres with the heat treatments and had 10 acres as control. They have segregated the blocks and intend to compare the wine quality. “Assuming we see comparable wine quality,” concluded Schultze, “next year we will treat everything and begin to experiment using heat to aid in pest control.”
Up in Napa and Sonoma, Mark Seifert of Foley Family Wines owned Sebastiani saw what he considered “amazing results”. Seifert who manages 8 vineyards for Foley Family Wines stated “we couldn’t be happier with the results we saw. Not only did we get higher fruit set and yields on our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but we cut our pest control costs to just a fraction of what was normally used in our vineyards”. Foley Family Farms also saw similar increases in yields and pest control in Rutherford on Foley Johnson Cabernet Sauvignon. They expect to increase their use of Thermaculture in 2017 at several Foley Family Farms owned operations.
In Lodi, Mark Chandler, Lodi Mayor and Former Lodi Wine Commission Executive Director, used Thermaculture for the first year on his Cabernet Sauvignon block. “Our vineyard management company just told me they saw 24.3% more yield per acre where we treated with heat.” Chandler intends to expand his Thermaculture use in 2017 to all his Cabernet Sauvignon acreage and also to start experimenting with a Thermaculture centered IPM approach to pest control.
“We still are awaiting more results from other machine owners as well as those growers who used treatment services”, said Fischer. “This was a great year for fruit set in general but we still saw major gains when Thermaculture was used during bloom. Certainly the incremental yield gains were greater in 2015 when fruit set weather was too cool and wet in many parts of the state.” The Company expects more data and will also be conducting quite a few blind tastings of test and control wines after the 2016 crop heads into the barrel.
Agrothermal Systems is based in Napa, California and is a DBA of Lazo TPC Global, Inc. a California Corporation. Agrothermal Systems has pioneered the use of Thermaculture as a means to increase yields, reduce pesticide needs and improve crop qualities. The company holds patents on Thermal Pest Control and has patents pending on other aspects of the technology.