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Thursday, 08 April 2021 13:55

Extended pruning season

Written by  Staff Reporters
Tiki Wine & Vineyards Tiki Wine & Vineyards

An early grape harvest means Marlborough pruning is likely to begin in April, with a late finish to extend the work window, says grape grower Guy Lissaman, chair of the Marlborough Labour Governance Group

He says the challenges of recruiting enough experienced pruners to Marlborough for winter 2021 continue. "The workforce picture for winter pruning will become clearer over the next two months, including how many RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme) workers can be accessed."

Good training, supervision and monitoring is important to achieve a good pruning result, and Guy supports the development of updated pruning training modules to assist contractors and grape growers with training new pruners.

"The dilemma we face with higher pruning costs and worker shortages is the risk that pruning quality will be compromised, due to the pressure to get the job done," he says.

"A good quality pruning job will help achieve target yields, maintain good vine health and help pay for the additional pruning costs. By comparison, cutting corners and getting a poor pruning job done will reduce yield and income potential and have a detrimental impact on vine health."

Guy urges grape growers and wine companies to contact their vineyard labour contractor and work through winter pruning plans.

In the meantime, industry groups continue to lobby Government ministers on how the RSE worker pool can be refreshed, "while enabling RSE workers to return home for a break and ensure there is an adequate pool of workers in New Zealand for the future," he says.

The wine industry needs more certainty "on how and where our workforce is accessed from, to service existing vineyards and additional plantings."

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