The dirt on nurseries, coming clean

I believe that everyone in our industry agrees: nurseries have a responsibility to provide the cleanest and most disease free grapevines in order to establish a healthy and long lived vineyard. Without disease free plants, the life of vineyards could be reduced significantly. And I would say for the most part, nurseries have done a pretty good job at aiming to supply good quality plants at a fair and reasonable price. However, there is always room for improvement and here at Sunridge Nurseries, we are no different. We are always being challenged to find ways to ‘clean up our act’. Fortunately, in this age of technology, we have increasingly more resources available to us from other industries. Additionally, with a little effort and some ingenuity, these technologies can easily be adapted into our nursery practices.

dirt on nurseries workerThe Down ‘n’ Dirty

It should come as no surprise, that the processes that are used by nurseries to create grafted vines is the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions to potentially compromise plant material. Everything from field harvesting, storage, and HWT (hot water treatment); to grafting, callusing, and potting; many opportunities exist where bacteria and fungal problems could be introduced. Employee retention is without question a key component in producing the highest quality, disease free plants. Production specialists who regularly handle the plant material can recognize and be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of problematic plant material. Here at Sunridge our employees have decades of experience from the harvest of nursery stock, until each plant is shipped.

Getting’ Clean, It’s a Step by Step Process

That’s right, take a look at every step in the process and then take every opportunity to make it as clean as you possibly can. That’s exactly what we are doing as we get prepared for the upcoming 2017 Season. Everything that we can do; from the use of chemical disinfectants - to UV Light, to biocides and biologicals; we are looking for ways to incorporate them into the production process. We are especially interested in the research being conducted on certain species of Trichoderma, Mycorrhizae and Bacillus organisms that have plant protective qualities and their positive impact on vine health, growth and vitality. It is an ongoing and ever contiguous progression throughout the nursery facility. Furthermore, we are really excited about our new greenhouse and shade house expansion project that is designed with cleanliness in mind!

Bottom Line, It’s All About: Prevention and Protection.

First, it all begins with clean plants. We are embarking on a new virus testing procedure for our certified mother blocks that is designed to test every plant that comes into the nursery within a 3 year cycle. The State regulations only require that it is done every 5 years! By the time you read this, Production Manager/… Leo Villanueva and I will have met with an independent lab out at our Cuyama Valley ranch, to design the best possible plan on how to accomplish this! During the interim we will be able to continue the judicious use of registered pesticides at our isolated ranch which will protect our mother stock from unwanted insect vectors and diseases. This way our customers will be ensured, to the best of our abilities, that clean plant material is available.

By the way, I know this sounds like we just discovered cleanliness- but the truth be known, Sunridge has been exercising these practices for many, many years! This is really about you, our customer and our renewed commitment to you to be the very best supplier of clean and disease free plant material in the industry!


Michael Vietti
Sunridge Nurseries