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Australian harvest at five-year low

Wine production in Australia is set to hit a five-year low this year, impacted by the knock-on effects of widespread wet weather in the 2010-11 growing season.

Floods in 2011: ‘negative effect on htis year’s crop’

According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), the 2012 harvest is estimated at 1.53m tonnes, the lowest total since 2007’s crop of 1.41m tonnes.

‘For many regions in eastern Australia, the damage sustained by vineyards during the wet 2010-11 growing season had a negative effect on the fruit set of this year’s crop,’ said ABARES executive director Paul Morris.

‘As a result, vines had fewer grape bunches with smaller berries on each bunch, although the quality is expected to be good.’

A 2-5% cut in production is likely across Australia’s warm climate zones of the Murray Darling, Swan Hill, Big Rivers and Lower Murray, which together account for about 60% of the country’s wine production.

Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are expected to suffer particularly reduced yields as a result of the wet conditions suffered in 2011.

‘Given the amount of rainfall again this season across eastern Australia, there has been greater vigilance with canopy management practices, such as thinning and spraying for diseases,’ Morris said.

‘However, despite this vigilance, heavy rainfall in late February and early March this year led to outbreaks of disease and crop losses in some regions of eastern New South Wales and northern Victoria.’

ABARES expects wine grape production to increase by 5% to 1.61m tonnes in 2012-13, assuming normal harvest conditions, and to rise again to 1.63m tonnes in 2013-14.

Written by Richard Woodard

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