Winegrape growers will be introduced to at least two new technologies at the 2010 Napa Valley Viticultural Fair that have never been used in a Napa Valley vineyard.
In all, there will be 120 exhibitors and 20 community organizations participating in the event being held Nov. 4 at the Napa Expo.
One of the newest technological methods in the vineyard also happens to be one of the oldest known to mankind — fire.
Burning weeds as a method to control them is not a new concept. It has been used for years in the Central Valley in alfalfa fields, according to Mark Twitchell of Allied Propane Services in Napa.
Now the idea of burning weeds during the winter is going to be introduced to grapevines in the Napa Valley, Twitchell said.
There are flamers designed for weed and pest control in smaller vineyards with tight rows. The device is pulled by a small tractor or all-terrain vehicle.
The vineyard flamer utilizes fire to eliminate weeds, dangerous pathogens and pests that can cause serious damage to crops and livestock. Propane is used to heat, incinerate and sanitize without the use of pesticides.
Rainbow Tractor’s new system offers a more high-tech innovation at this year’s fair. Video-camera technology on the front of tractors and all-terrain vehicles allows for precision work when leaf thinning and spraying, according to Jerry Smith of the Calistoga-based company.
“Our theme this year is services, products and equipment geared toward efficiency and improving your bottom line,” said Napa Valley Grapegrowers events coordinator Jill Durfee.
Napa Valley Grapegrowers Vit Fair committee president Garrret Buckland expects at least 1,500 visitors to come through the gates for the one-day show.
Buckland said that there will be something here for everyone — whether you farm 1,000 acres or one.
The fair has been moved from the front of Chardonnay Hall to the back of it. Seminars will still take place, including two sessions in Spanish. Topics range from open air burning requirements to cover crops, compost and weed management.
Admission is $10 and includes the seminars and equipment demonstrations.