App to inform harvest

By Country News

A new app is helping grape growers better measure and track the development of grapes in the vineyard to assist with harvest and vineyard management decisions.

Developed by the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre and Charles Sturt University researchers and funded by Wine Australia, the app is available for growers and vineyard managers to use this coming harvest.

Lead researcher and NWGIC director Leigh Schmidtke said the app allowed growers to quickly measure and then chart the colour and size of the berries.

‘‘A probe around the size of a single grape is inserted into the cluster to act as a reference point for size in the app,’’ Professor Schmidtke said.

‘‘You then take a picture of the grape cluster.

‘‘The algorithms in the computer program calibrate the distance from the camera to the berries.

‘‘The software will also take the probe measurement in pixels then relate it to the size of the surrounding grapes.’’

As grapes mature they change colour, and each particular shade in that colour change relates to changes in the sensory style of wine.

‘‘Being able to measure and chart colour change is very valuable and allows winemakers to predict when they should be harvesting the grapes to end up with the style of wine they want to produce,’’ Prof Schmidtke said.

‘‘What’s more, the colour and berry size data can be used to monitor negative developments in the crop.’’

Wine Australia research, development and extension general manager Liz Waters said the app would also allow grape growers to make improvements to irrigation scheduling to control vine water status, which would assist in avoiding berry water loss and shrivel, enhance fruit quality, and improve bunch consistency.

■The Android app is available through Google Play and is supported by other resources on the NWGIC website.