Deterring Pests From Your Vineyard Starts With Consistent, Proactive Action

deer crouched in a vineyard

By: Gerald Dlubala  

It’s not only wine drinkers that look forward to tasting your offerings. Vineyard pests are consistently looking for a handout, and although they are reliable, repeat consumers, they are not your ideal customer. Problematic pests will attack your grapes using any and all available pathways. Professionals agree that whether they arrive at your vineyard by land or air, the best way to control or limit the damaging effects of predatory pests in your vineyard is by adopting proactive methods to effectively stop their intrusion before it begins. Preventative pest deterrent systems implemented on a consistent schedule always have the highest success rates. Luckily, effective pest deterrence methods to thwart the most common offenders can be easy on you without affecting the quality, taste, texture or fermentation abilities of your grapes.

  While trying to halt the invasion of ground-traveling threats like foraging deer, a quality fence system successfully keeps them on the outside while your vineyard thrives on the inside. To protect your vineyards from ground predators, contact a professional to discover what type of fencing solution is best for your vineyard and landscape configuration.

Quality Fencing Keeps Your Vineyard Safe from Hungry Predators: Trident Enterprises

  “Trident Fence specializes in deer and wildlife fencing solutions for numerous applications, including vineyards and wineries,” said Mark Dayhoff, Chief Operating Officer for Trident Enterprises. “Our fencing materials are constructed of heavy-grade polypropylene or PVC-coated metal and are available in six-to-eight-foot heights. We also carry the more traditional fixed knot/field fence options for those that prefer that style. When focusing on deer for vineyards and orchards, we recommend the fencing to be seven and a half to eight feet tall for maximum effectiveness. However, some clients install fencing as high as 10 feet for added protection and peace of mind.”

  Vineyard owners or managers will always want to get a custom quote for their wildlife exclusion fencing, including their preferred height requirements. The fencing choices available from Trident include polypropylene options, 14-gauge PVC-coated welded wire, 20-gauge steel hex and 12.5-gauge field fencing. In addition, all fencing materials can be attached to matching posts provided by Trident or wooden posts under certain circumstances.

  Dayhoff tells The Grapevine Magazine that while they do not do in-person consultations with their clients, they treat each winery and vineyard uniquely, going over the different options in detail with winery personnel to come up with the best choice for success.

  “Frequently, we receive plots or detailed landscape drawings from the wineries,” said Dayhoff. “Using that information, we work up an itemized quote based on the unique needs of the vineyard owner, along with our recommendation for the best choice. Additionally, we’ll use video chat to meet with the client and get a real-time look at the area of the proposed fence installation to see the landscape and any trouble spots or specific areas that need additional discussion or planning. We can also video chat for any issues that come up along the way.”

  Dayhoff says that Trident’s fencing is designed to be installed without needing a separate installer, saving the vineyard owner money. In addition, no specialized tools are required for the polypropylene, steel hex or welded wire fencing systems. Most installations are completed using standard tools, like sledgehammers, drills and wrenches. The only exception is Trident’s fixed knot fence, which is a bit more complex to install. Installation for a fixed knot fence may require the use of tensioners, tractors or miscellaneous heavy equipment to complete the installation. Expected lifespans range from 15 years for their polypropylene options to 30 years for metal fencing, depending on the thickness of the wire chosen by the customer.

  “The thing to remember is that it’s important to act early for maximum success with deer fencing,” said Dayhoff. “Our fencing works best when installed before you have a deer problem, so when the deer initially encounter the fence, they won’t attempt or think about jumping over or going through it. Instead, they’ll walk the perimeter of the fence and head off searching for the next, more accessible food option. If the deer are already accustomed to coming into the vineyard, you’ll have to correct their feeding habits to get them to look elsewhere. That will take a little longer, and a few may initially still get in during the process. Consistently checking and inspecting the fence line for breaches or breach attempts by wildlife will show the areas that need strengthening and reinforcing to keep the deer from getting through. Over time, the deer will establish a new trail outside the fence line in search of a different food source. It’s always easier to keep them out from the start rather than training them to go elsewhere for their food source.”

  As expected, pricing for deer fence systems varies based on the vineyard’s size, landscape and needs, along with the vineyard owner’s choice of fencing material and unique configuration needs, including gates, corners and ends. The overall cost is different for every application and situation, so Dayhoff suggests that it is always beneficial for the vineyard owner or manager to call to obtain a definitive and accurate quote rather than relying on estimates and hypothetical situations. One size never fits all.

  “We have all the parts and accessories a vineyard owner or manager needs to create an effective wildlife exclusion fence to keep deer and other crop-damaging wildlife out of their vineyard,” said Dayhoff. “We will provide the proper materials, including the fencing, posts, corner, ends and necessary gates needed for complete and effective installation. Along with fencing, we can also supply the vineyard with options in full lines of bird and trellis netting to help and aid in other areas of vineyard and winery pest control.”

Bird Is the Word: Avian Enterprises

  Now that you have the land-based wildlife held at bay, you must also consider the air attack that can destroy and decimate your vineyard. Bird problems can get out of hand quickly. With abundant food and cover, there’s no better place than a vineyard for nesting birds to call home. Like fencing installations, getting an early jump on a potential bird problem in your vineyard is critical before it becomes a legitimate, more significant problem.

  “You always want to be proactive and start weekly applications before you have a full-blown problem,” said Jon Stone, president of Avian Enterprises LLC, which offers simple solutions to bird problems across many industries. “For best results, we recommend early applications of Avian Control® for Crops before the scout birds can come in and set up residence.”

  Avian Control® for Crops is a biological pesticide that protects your crops from bird damage by reducing or eliminating bird nesting in your vineyard and surrounding property, thereby reducing or eliminating harmful bird droppings on the plants along with the loss of crops from birds feeding on them. Avian Control® repels only birds. There is no effect on humans or domestic animals. It’s proven effective at significantly reducing bird predation on both wine and table grapes, as well as many other crops.

  “Avian Control® is a Methyl anthranilate (MA)-based repellent that negatively stimulates the trigeminal nerve located in the bird’s head. This unpleasant or uncomfortable sensation subsequently urges the bird to go elsewhere for nesting purposes,” said Dan Kramer, technical director of Avian Enterprises LLC. “Methyl anthranilate is a naturally occurring ingredient found in bergamot, black locust, gardenia, jasmine, lemon, mandarin oranges and strawberries, and it features a chemical formula comprised of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, all essential life elements. It, along with all the ingredients in Avian Control®, is completely biodegradable and widely used in foods designed for human consumption. All ingredients formulated in Avian Control® are food-grade and generally recognized as safe (GRAS) within the food industry while providing growers with affordable, easy-to-apply repellents that reduce or eliminate the need for additional netting, noisemakers and inflatables. Additionally, when MA biodegrades, it breaks down into the simple elements of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, all found naturally in grapes and produced in small quantities in several V. vinifera cultivars, including pinot noir, riesling and silvaner.”

  The current Avian Control® repellant is a third-generation product designed to repel birds for up to 14 days without affecting the treated grapes’ appearance, taste or fermentation abilities as some other bird-repellent products are known to do. The patented formula provides a strong effect without harming the birds that come into contact with it. Additionally, the birds cannot acclimate or become immune to it, so with the regular use of Avian Control®, the birds are effectively being trained to stay away.

  “The best results occur when Avian Control® is mixed with water of pH7 or higher,” said Stone. “Avian Control® can be used all over a winery’s property and is easily and effectively applied through equipment that the vineyard likely has on hand, including air blast, boom and handheld sprayers or through shoulder mount foggers. Along with the vineyards themselves, it’s also beneficial to use Avian Control® in nearby barns, pavilions, sheds or any place where birds tend to congregate. You want to get in those places and fog rafters at least once a week or more frequently for the first two weeks to get ahead of the scouting birds. Consistency is the key to success, so after the initial application, we recommend a weekly schedule to keep things fresh and most effective. The recommended application schedules can change with weather conditions, particularly in rainy conditions, where the application may have to be reapplied more frequently to remain effective.”

  “Avian Control® Bird Repellent provides the vigneron with a bird control technology that repels feathered pests, is easy to apply and economical, is not phytotoxic and has no impact on the fine wines produced from treated grapes,” said Kramer.

  An application of Avian Control® can cost a vineyard as low as $12.50 an acre and last up to two weeks in normal conditions. The length of effectiveness is even longer when used in indoor structures.

“I can’t stress enough that proactive, consistent application at strong enough rates is key,” said Stone. “Use this approach, and you will succeed in keeping birds away from your vineyard.”

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