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JewishJournal.com

March 23, 2010

Grapes facing frost? Ice ‘em

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/grapes_facing_frost_ice_em_20100323/

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Kendall Jackson is turning to an Israeli company, PIP (Pulsating Irrigation Products), to protect its 14,000 acres of vines from frost. The counterintuitive technique—employed by other vintners and vineyards in Sonoma and Napa—coats the growing grape bud with a fine layer of ice, much like an igloo, Karin Kloosterman reports for Israel 21c.

...A coating of ice can shield young buds on a grape vine very nicely from temperatures that fall below zero. And it’s far more effective than other conventional solutions, which rely on giant fan heaters to keep the grapes warm.

One of the difficulties of frost protection like this, however, is flow and water pressure. When it comes to a frost warning, grape growers have to act fast. They know a coating of ice on the vines can help mitigate damage, but if they turn on their irrigation systems at one go, they are unlikely to have enough water pressure for the whole vineyard, explains Roee Ruttenberg, PIP’s CEO. As a result they tend to separate parts of irrigation system, turning on sections one at a time.

“[By doing this] you risk losing a large chunk of your harvest,” warns Ruttenberg. “When you are talking about grapes for wine, that can amount to millions of dollars.”

...

The advantage of the PIP Pulsator 200 irrigation system, one of a number of PIP solutions in agriculture, is that it allows irrigation devices to operate at a very low flow, (0.02 liters per hour), explains Ruttenberg. He claims it is the lowest pulse of water of any drip irrigation system on the market today. “The flow is so low, when temperatures drop to freezing, the entire system is turned on and creates ice over the vineyards,” he says.

The PIP frost protection solution can be added to existing irrigation systems and switched on the moment a farmer receives notice of a frost warning. A PIP device, each of which costs $5, is installed every six meters of vine. It is already being sold throughout California and Chile.

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