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Southern Ill. winery feeling effects of colder temperatures

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 4:17 PM CDT
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CARTERVILLE, Ill. (KFVS) - As temperatures dropped below freezing and some snow fell on Tuesday evening, one winery in southern Illinois was prepping before the harsh weather hit the area.

Walker’s Bluff was proactive by spraying their crops. They said this allowed them to withstand some of the colder temperatures.

“As soon as we found out the weather was going to be colder than it should be at this time of year, we sprayed the vines with a sugar fertilizer mixture and a product called vapor guard that kind of helps seal up the plant. So it will help protect it a few extra degrees, so hopefully we won’t have any injury this and we’ll have 100 percent crop,” said Ryan Phelps, COO at Walker’s Bluff.

They said they won’t lose any full plants due to the freezing temperatures.

“If we do get a hard freeze, especially if we get down into the upper ’20s, it will kill the first bud which is the most productive for fruit production. The second bud will come out so the plant will survive, but you will have greatly reduced fruit production,” said Phelps.

But there is some good news for Walker’s Bluff.

“They should produce a second bud and even a third bud, if that second bud were to get burned as well,” Phelps said, “so the grape vines will survive and procure fruit again next year.”

They said most of the hybrid grapes grown there can better withstand cold temperatures. However, the European vines have a harder time with colder weather.

Phelps said those coming out to the wineries in a few weeks won’t even notice the damage that was caused by the freeze.

Walker’s Bluff said the same thing happened around a year ago.

“Absolutely, I think it was last year at this time that we had a freeze. Some of our grapes were even further along last year at this time. We did experience maybe a 5 percent loss,” said Phelps.

Walker’s Bluff said they will know if the first bud on the vine was killed by the freeze around Friday.

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