Vineyard Frost Protection
Current methods of frost protection in vineyards involve fans, air heaters or sprinklers; each is limited by environmental constraints or available water. An alternative, all-electrical technique offers growers wider choice to match options with their vineyard operations. This study evaluates the ability of electrical heating cables, wrapped around the vine cordons, to protect inflorescences from frost damage. Five heating cable treatments in six replicates were applied to a 2-ha block of Sauvignon Blanc in the southern New England Region of Australia. Vines were subjected to a single -3°C frost event in November 2006 when at approximately 30% capfall. Non-heated vines suffered 41% (Control) and 46% (No heat) inflorescence loss. Those subjected to Low heat suffered a 28% loss, Medium-heated vines suffered a 16% loss and High-heated vines suffered a 13% loss. Qualitative scoring of the vines indicated that more than half of the Medium-/High-heated vines suffered no appreciate damage, whereas all non-heated vines suffered some form of potential crop loss or damage. Thus, electrical heating cables of minimum 10 W/m power rating were found to significantly reduce frost damage to inflorescences at 30% capfall. At approximately 43 kW/ha, electrical heating cable offers an alternative frost protection method for small vineyards.