Safe spray application reminder

As the spray season gets underway across Australia’s wine regions, this is a good time to think about some of the key factors that ensure safe and effective spray practices for pest, disease and weed control.

Selection of chemicals
Only use chemicals registered for use on grapevines. Refer to the ‘Dog book’ for a full list of registered and recommended chemicals. Rotate chemicals to avoid agrochemical resistance. Follow the CropLife Australia chemical resistance management strategies on pages 15 – 18 of the ‘Dog book’ and in the AWRI fact sheet on managing chemical resistance.

Chemical labels
Agrochemical labels are legal documents that must be observed. Always follow the label recommended application rates, recommendations for personal protective equipment and re-entry periods. Label withholding periods (WHPs) provide a guide which assumes that the wine will be sold in Australia. The ‘Dog book’ WHP recommendations assume that the wine will be sent to a range of overseas markets, each with differing maximum residue levels (MRLs). If you only sell wine in Australia, or to only a few countries, contact the AWRI to discuss how the recommendations might differ. The AWRI can also provide advice regarding the persistence of chemicals on grapes or through winemaking. MRLs for most major export destinations can be found in the AWRI’s MRL database.

It is a label requirement that specific details of all agrochemical applications be kept for a minimum of two years. Australian states and territories also have their own legislation regarding accreditation for applicators, information to be recorded and the length of time for which records must be kept. The AWRI, in collaboration with industry, has developed a spray diary format and set of terminology that meets basic winery requirements. It is, however, recommended that growers follow applicable state or territory rules and check with their winery or grape purchaser in case additional information is required.

Agrochemical application
Effective chemical control is dependent on the correct timing, coverage and application rate. A number of fact sheets on spray application are available from the spray application page of the AWRI website. Key points to consider include:

  • Spray drift – Monitor weather conditions before and during spraying to ensure the conditions are favourable. Practical tips for spraying can be found in this fact sheet.
  • Safety – All staff handling and applying agrochemicals should be adequately trained to perform the task safely. Check state regulations for training requirements.
  • Disposal – Dispose of used chemical containers and unused chemical responsibly through programs such as drumMuster and ChemClear.

For more information on spray application or any other grape and wine technical issues, please contact the AWRI helpdesk on (08) 8313 6600 or email helpdesk@awri.com.au.