Independent Grape Growers - Paso Robles Area
Gold Members


Smoke Taint and You

What to do when smoke gets in your vines
By: Becky Zelinski

When wineries ask you how you knew whether or not smoke taint has affected your vineyard, it’s best to be know the answers. Growers can find out how to be prepared at the September IGGPRA (Independent Grape Growers of the Paso Robles Area) seminar to be held at La Quinta Inn & Suites on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to smoke taint, the latest updates on Red Blotch and Bunch Rot will be discussed.

Like it or not, the California Central Coast has been affected by its share of smoke in 2016. It’s difficult to know at this point which vineyards have been affected with smoke taint and to what degree. Therefore, the million-dollar question on the minds of every grower is: has my fruit been affected; and if so, to what degree and what does it mean?

The short answer is: it’s complicated. Believe it or not, smoke taint is variable from vineyard to vineyard and even within a vineyard. The taint is caused by a

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Vine Mealy Bugs and Lorsban

Just a quick update about two important topics.

I am seeing infestations of vine mealy bug (VMB) in vineyards in the Hog Canyon area of San Miguel. This is a very serious pest! Check out the UCIPM website ( for more information.

I think all growers need VMB traps at about 1 per every 10 acres. It is all over the AVA so don’t think you are immune. I know that Buttonwillow warehouse and CPS carry the traps – and will even monitor them for you (for a price). The cost of control is about $100 / ac. Not insignificant and it can run much higher. If you are organic or biodynamic – it is even more important that you begin trapping as soon as you can. If there is one pest that will make you have to switch away from organic it is this one.

The second thought is on the use of Lorsban (or CHLORPYRIFOS). The UC website recommends this material as a dormant spray for VMB. I recommend that you DO NOT use this material. The director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently issued this request, ( and I think it is valid

Additionally, If you do use Lorsban (or CHLORPYRIFOS) you will be moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 by the Regional Water Quality Control Board Ag Order. The reporting requirements are much greater for Tier 2 than Tier 1 – and you really don’t want to go there.

Another update soon about Red Blotch Testing. There is now a “quick” test that can let you know if you have it or not.

Sustainable Winegrowing and Certification Webinar

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Assessment Workshop

Participate in this free webinar to learn about the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program (SWP), how to complete a Self-Assessment using the SWP Online System and the steps required to become Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing (CCSW). The Performance Metrics project and online metrics tool will also be covered.

Webinar Registration:

Crop Insurance Deadline – January 31, 2016

You must sign up no later than January 31, 2016,  to have coverage for this crop year. The federal crop insurance program is the only subsidized insurance plan that provides coverage against perils for your growing crops. Where to Buy Crop Insurance All multi-peril crop insurance, including CAT policies, are available from private insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA service centers and on the RMA website at:

Grapes are insurable if the vines:

  • Have reached the fourth growing season after being set out; or
  • Have reached the third season after grafting for all varieties. Many varieties of grapes are listed for each county. You must insure all your acreage of a particular variety in a county at the same coverage level. However, one variety can be insured and not another. For example, you could insure all your Chardonnay and none of your Merlot vineyards.

Counties Available:  Grapes are insurable in Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Lake, Madera, Marin, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Yolo counties. Grapes in other counties may be insurable by written agreement if specific criteria are met. Contact a crop insurance agent for more details.

Causes of Loss

You are protected against the following:

  • Adverse weather conditions;
  • Earthquake;
  • Failure of irrigation water supply, if caused by an insured peril during the insurance year;
  • Fire;
  • Insects or plant disease, but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of control measures;
  • Volcanic eruption; or
  • Wildlife.

Insurance Period

To insure the crop you plan to harvest this year, you must apply for coverage with a crop insurance agent before January 31. Insurance coverage begins in February for vineyards that haven’t been insured before and ends the earlier of the date harvest ends or November 10.

Important Dates

  • Sales Closing/Cancellation….…..January 31, 2015
  • Acreage Reporting……………….….May 15, 2015
  • Premium Billing…………..…………August 15, 2015
  • Termination…………..…….…………January 31, 2016

Price Election

The price used to calculate your premium and Indemnity. Price elections vary by variety and County. Contact a crop insurance agent for current information.

Coverage Levels and Premium Subsidies

Coverage levels range from 50 to 85 percent of your approved yield. Crop insurance premiums are subsidized as shown in the following table. For example, if you choose the 65-percent coverage level, your premium share would be 41 percent of the base premium.

Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT) coverage is fixed at 50 percent of your approved yield and 55 percent of the price election. CAT is 100 percent subsidized with no premium cost to you. There is, however, an administrative fee of $300 per crop per county, regardless of the acreage.

Loss Example

Assume 65-percent coverage, 100 percent price election of $550 per ton, an average yield of 6 tons per acre, Chardonnay variety in San Joaquin county, and 100 percent share.

  • 6 Ton average per acre
  • x 0.65 Coverage level percentage
  • 3.9 Tons per acre guarantee
  • – 2.0 Tons per acre actually produced
  • 1.9 Tons per acre loss
  • x $550 Price election
  • $1045 Gross indemnity per acre

Price used above is for example only. Contact a crop insurance agent for current information. Where to Buy Crop Insurance All multi-peril crop insurance, including CAT policies, are available from private insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA service centers and on the RMA website at:

This fact sheet gives only a general overview of the crop insurance program and is not a complete policy, it has not been updated by the USDA since 2015.  For further information and an evaluation of your risk management needs, contact a crop insurance agent. Or, Teresa Doughton, USDA, at 530.792.5888