Technical team helping producers worldwide to deal with the weather phenomenon as they prepare for harvesting
Breeding giant Bloom Fresh has announced that it is taking proactive measures to safeguard table grape production as El Niño threatens vineyards across the globe, bringing extreme heat to some regions while inundating others with heavy rainfall.
“El Niño demands a global strategy to protect table grape crops,” said Dr Pietro Scafidi, the company’s global R&D manager.
“Given its diverse impacts on different countries, our mission is to leverage our two decades of expertise and research to assist growers in safeguarding their crops, ultimately yielding top-quality, robust, and delicious table grapes.”
Bloom said its technical team for table grapes routinely dispatches experts to the 24 countries where the company’s varieties are grown. On-site, they collaborate with licensed growers, sharing invaluable knowledge tailored to each region’s specific requirements.
In areas experiencing extreme heat due to El Niño, growers face heightened challenges in irrigation due to increased evapotranspiration rates.
“This combined process involves water evaporating from the ground and transpiring from plants, necessitating greater water inputs to maintain vine health. Techniques like netting to reduce water consumption become vital,” the company said.
Scafidi highlighted the resilience of certain table grape varietals, such as Sweet Globe, Candy Snaps, Candy Dreams, and Candy Hearts, which have thrived in desert conditions in the California Central Valley.
“These successes offer assurance that consumers and retailers will continue to access hardy and tasty table grapes,” he said. “Conversely, varietals like Sweet Celebration, Candy Crunch, Rugby, and IFG Forty-six have exhibited remarkable resistance to splits and decay, even under high rainfall pressures near harvest.”
For regions anticipating intense rainfall, Scafidi said the strategic use of plastic covers can shield crops effectively. He emphasised the importance of proper installation during the rainy season, including row planting distances and the height of the plastic above the canopy, as key factors for success.
Bloom noted that decades of data collection are proving invaluable in tackling climatic challenges head-on, providing a wealth of information that informs critical strategies for growing top-quality fruit and crops during adverse conditions.
In 2019, the company launched a digital transformation initiative, integrating critical data into a unified system. This enhanced system enables the technical team to offer more precise recommendations and informed decisions, benefiting both existing fruit varieties and licensees, which is particularly valuable during challenging times, whether related to weather or other geopolitical factors affecting the farm-to-table process.
“Our primary objective is to bolster the success of our licensees,” said Scafidi. “The automation of Bloom’s systems and data collection methods delivers a multitude of advantages. The technical team’s expertise is shared throughout the supply chain, benefiting every stage from the field to harvest, packaging, and sales.”