Press Democrat: Sonoma County Grape Growers Use Technology to Battle Frost

New monitoring equipment can help prevent vineyard operators deal with frost and heat. 

Just as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane used data analysis to find bargain baseball players to put his team into the playoffs, local grape growers now can benefit from similar analytics to help them with frost and heat protection as well as water management.

“It doesn’t care who you are or what you do. If you are better informed, you can make better decisions,” said David Reynolds, senior research meteorologist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences.

The new high-tech tools are taking on added importance as bud break has started earlier than normal this year, exposing the North Coast’s $1.5 billion grape crop to the threat of frost damage. Freezing temperatures already have been reported this week, prompting growers to turn on their wind machines and spray their vineyards with water to prevent the tender buds from freezing…

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