Customer Story

Frost Fighting in Central Otago

Abbie Franklin
5 minutes

It's no surprise that the Spring frosts have been tough for winegrowers in Central Otago, New Zealand. With harsh conditions and multiple frost protection solutions, two local growers explain how their FrostBoss® frost fans are helping them through this season.

Timbo Deaker has been involved in the Central Otago wine industry since 1992. Now the operations Manager at Viticultura, he knows a thing or two about frost protection. He manages multiple vineyards around Central & North Otago. When frost fighting, Timbo uses 80% frost fans (managing approximately 25 of them) and 20% irrigation, where there is no inversion layer for a frost fan to bring the warmer air down to protect the vines. However, the difficulty with irrigation is water shortages and regulations around the region.

Timbo describes the timeline for Spring frost season as "October 5th - December 5th". From a management point of view, there is a 6-week stint of being on call all night. He explains that "frost fighting is a communal time of year. You can see the car lights in the valley, everyone is awake together and gets stuck in". To help him stay awake, his fuel for frost fighting is "Whittakers chocolate and a single malt scotch". "For the last 15 years, the coldest day has bee the cursed November 27th". Timbo and the team are hoping it isn't the case this year but are always prepared for the possibility. When asked what he likes the most, he said the alarm text messages he received when the temperature has dropped to a set level, this helps him to prepare for a night ahead of frost fighting.

Two Paddocks 'The last chance' vineyard, Alexandra in Central Otago, New Zealand.

As for Alan Peters-Oswald, Winemaker at Nanny Goat Vineyard takes a more relaxed approach to frost fighting. He is based in Queensbury, a small sub-region in between Cromwell and Luggate. He has four frost fans protecting approximately 20 hectares of vineyards. He has chosen the five-bladed frost fans as he is mindful of his neighbours and wants to reduce noise.

This season, only two of the four FrostBoss® frost fans were used as two were installed on newly planted vines. Luckily, he said he has only used his frost fans five teams this Spring season. But he is prepared to potentially use them again in the upcoming weeks. Alan uses the AutoStart/Stop™ feature that allows the frost fans to turn on automatically at a set temperature. Before a frost, he checks that his fuel tanks are full and moves the temperature sensors to colder areas on the vineyard to ensure he is completely protected in a cold snap.

FrostBoss® frost fans are made here in New Zealand where they protect a range of crops include wine grapes, cherries, apples and kiwifruit.

This article was written by Abbie Franklin, Marketing Coordinator of New Zealand Frost Fans.

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