MORE than 50 hectares of Limestone Coast vines have been damaged by a land-owner allegedly spraying chemicals.
At least five properties in the Wrattonbully wine region have been affected by the vapour drift, which is being investigated by Department of Primary Industry
Resources SA in conjunction with the Limestone Coast ChemCare Committee. Committee chairman Andrew Kennedy said it was believed Phenoxy Herbicide, which may have been applied to a property in the first week of November, was responsible for the wide-spread damage.
“Vapour drift has thee potential to travel up to 20km and it appears that a chemical user has disregarded the need to be aware of the key roles played by wind speed, wind direction, humidity and temperature,” he said.
Naradin Vineyard manager Rex Hutchison estimated up to 14ha of his vines had been affected, with the Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling vine leaves showing deformities.
“We’re still not clear about the degree of damage but it’s definitely going to affect trade,” he said.
The Wrattonbully Wine Industry Association has also condemned the damage, describing it as a major setback for the local industry.Chairman Neil Ottoson estimated one affected vineyard could face losses of more than $200,000.
The Limestone Coast ChemCare Committee has inspected the damaged vines and has con-firmed that crop losses are likely.”We also believe that the problem is more widespread than we are able to confirm, as many grapegrowers may be yet to discover the damage to their crops,” Mr kennedy said.