A Nelson Based Company Creates A World First Non-Toxic In Fighting Grape Splitting
Agricultural fertiliser and biostimulant company Waikaitu Ltd has developed a product that could significantly impact
the wine growing industry.
Waikaitu Ltd has produced the world’s first seaweed-based product called FruitGuard to help grapes naturally regulate
the water pressure inside the fruit and significantly reduce splitting.
Grape splitting can occur at the end of the season just before harvest, potentially ruining harvests with even a single
late season rain event. A grape that has split may then allow fungal infection, like Botrytis, to get established in the
grape bunches. If the fungus infection is bad enough the grower can lose their entire crop. Fungal pressure intensifies
late in grape development - just before the harvest.
Two years ago one of the Marlborough Growers lost 1.2 million dollars to Grapes splitting that caused Botrytis and they
were not the only one.
To evaluate FruitGuard several trials on grapes were performed in the presence of a significant wet weather challenge.
“The positive result with FruitGuard on reducing split... in grapes suggests the product has considerable potential to
assist grape growers achieve higher yields of quality fruit.”
David Jacobsen, Viticulture Consultant, Blenheim Marlborough
In 2018 grape trials, splitting was reduced by up to 5 times - from 68% to 13% incidence - during one of the rainiest
late seasons in recent memory. FruitGuard is a completely natural and food-safe, organic product based on locally
harvested invasive seaweed. Three main components work together to nourish the plant, improve abiotic stress resistance
and improve plant recovery by reducing oxidative damage.
New Zealand wineries have very high standards for their fruit and will not accept substandard fruit from their growers.
FruitGuard was developed to protect New Zealand high value fruit industry from damage due to increasing climate
instability. Waikaitu was shortlisted for the 2018 NZ BioSecurity Awards Innovation category for this project.
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