roses for early detection of mildew

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wine dabbler
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Nov 5, 2006
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Raleigh, NC, USA
My brother & his wife are touring the UK, currently in Wales. Today they visited a vineyard, and were told the owners plant roses as mildew hits the roses 3 weeks before it hits the grapes, so it gives them early warning.

Has anyone heard of this?
I've always been aware of this notion, and when I planted my vines I put a rose bush every few rows but I have found them to be useless in their canary in coalmine role. Mildew/Odium comes with no warning at all...(in my experience)...the temperature drops below 25C (77F) ...perhaps some rain...and Bob's your uncle, it can zap you out of nowhere in a couple of hours.. I can't see how a rose bush can forecast three weeks in's not as if the disease is slowly making its way through the vines. Early on in my deranged vineyard experiment I lost row after row of vines...I was buying standard fungicide from my farmers' coop...Metalaxyl and Mancozeb. Our local crop is pimiento (famous Pimenton de la Vera) and tobacco...maybe it works with them, but I would strongly advise to buy specialised grapevine fungicides such as Vivero, Enervin, etc equivalent. After ringing the changes with fungicides so as to avoid the fungus developing immunity while overwintering...I now rarely lose more than a few vines a year.


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I have heard that theory about roses in the vineyard, too. While it looks nice AND I do like roses, I don't think it is going to warn you in advance of mildew. I learned early on that vinifera WILL have a powdery mildew problem if i do not spray sulphur every 7-14 days. Western Washington state is a great place for mildew, unfortunately.
I DO like roses, though. Why not?
I bought the property next to mine from a little old lady with a rose problem. So many roses....

The mildew did seem to be visible on the roses before the grapes but was still too late for me to control it. That said I do look for it on the roses. I did spray today, was going to do it this weekend but I noticed some weird mold I've never had before on an overgrown plant I've been meaning to trim. Never seen it before, but I cut it out and could see it shedding dust, so figured I'd just spray everything.

We'll see. So far everything looks great. Baco Noir is flowering and I think the tempranillo may start in the next day or 2.
I was in my orchard yesterday thinning and saw some on a tree along with leaf rollers. Sprayed immediately!! Orchard and grapes with Sulphur and again with Sevin.

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