All 200 hectares of Bodegas Fundador’s El Majuelo vineyard will be controlled by “sexual confusion” in an attempt to control Lobesia Botrana or vine moth, starting now. This moth is one of the major vineyard pests especially in southern Europe, and was first detected in Jerez in the early 1960s. Lobesia is capable of four generation in a year, but usually three in Andalucía. Eggs are laid in spring among the fine flower leaves of the vine, and the larvae damage the nascent grapes, then as the surviving grapes ripen, caterpillars feed on them, which is bad enough but these lesions leave the grapes open to the fungus Botrytis Cinerea which rots them, rendering the bunch useless.
|Lobesia Botrana moth (foto:vitivinicultura.net)|
The sexual confusion technique works by using nature. At breeding time, the female moths emit pheromones to attract males, so the vine growers put little female pheromone diffusers all over the vineyard (350-500 per hectare) saturating the air and confusing the males. Some vineyards even have traps which consist of little glue lined boxes charged with pheromones. This process only attacks the Lobesia and dramatically reduces fertilisation without the use of insecticides, which attack all insects good and bad, and is permitted in organic vineyards. It has been in use in Jerez since 1993 but not particularly widely due to the cost.
|Lobesia caterpillar (foto:vitivinicultura.net)|
Since 2004 Fundador has held the ISO 14001 environmental certification which insists on constant environmental control and improvement, and the company has already ceased the burning of vine prunings, reduced herbicide use and introduced sexual confusion techniques to reduce environmental impact and manage the vineyards organically.
|Pheromone dispenser (foto:rawwine.com)|