In 2015, John Deere re-entered the orchard and vineyard markets by introducing a new suite of tractors, the 5G series, specifically designed for the unique characteristics of these fields. This series launched with the 5GV and 5GN tractors, and in 2018, added the 5GL. The 5GV and 5GN tractors are narrow models designed to fit between close vineyard rows and have a tight turning radius for easy maneuverability, while the 5GL is a low-profile tractor, specifically designed to fit under orchard canopies.
The product line opened a new door for RDO Equipment Co into orchards and vineyards. Along with existing stores and support in some of the hottest wine areas in the U.S. – the Central Coast of California and the Yakima Valley in Washington – this new product line further drove RDO Equipment Co.’s efforts to partner with orchard and vineyard growers.
While selling and supporting John Deere tractors is important, it became apparent there was more these customers needed than just a tractor. This led to RDO Equipment Co.’s expanded partnership with Blueline Manufacturing to offer all the specialty pieces of machinery that are needed in orchards and vineyards. Silverline by Blueline equipment was made available in all of RDO Equipment Co.’s nine stores throughout Oregon and Washington.
Here’s a sampling of how RDO Equipment Co. supports these specialty growers all season long.
Winter Canopy Management
Depending on the area, the winter season begins anywhere from late October to early December, and lasts until early spring, around March. During the winter season, canopy management is common for both orchard and vineyard growers. This maintenance is done to prep the vines for best sunlight potential, as well as pest and disease management.
Vineyard pruning can be done with a few different machines, among the most popular is the ERO brand trimmer. This trimmer works well mounted on the front of a John Deere 5090GV and will trim two half-rows simultaneously.
After pruning is done, the process isn’t yet complete. To properly clean up the trimmings, growers can use a specially-designed narrow tractor like the John Deere 5G narrow series, with a pull-behind flail mower attachment to grind up the leftover trimmings.
Spring Maintenance and Spraying
A maintenance task typically done in vineyards in the spring is sucker removal. In order to help control where grapes grow by removing these small growths, Silverline developed a machine designed exclusively for this task – name and all: The Sucker Remover.
Also in the spring, both orchards and vineyard begin spraying. There’s a variety of tow-behind and machine-mounted sprayers; Blueline makes a great pull-type sprayer called the Accutech. This sprayer accommodates several different spray head configurations, making it perfect for the grower who has both orchards and vineyards.
A recent and exciting model from Gregoire is the ECOPROTECT for vineyards. Chemical is among the biggest cost growers incur. On top of the initial cost, very few sprayers are rate-controlled. Not only is the ECOPROTECT rate controlled, it’s specially-designed to recapture chemical that doesn’t stick on the vines after being sprayed. This recaptured chemical is filtered and reused, often saving 30-50% of what’s sprayed.
Summer Spraying and Maintenance
Spraying typically continues into the summer months. Additional maintenance tasks commonly taken care of in the summer are leafing and trimming.
Depending on the crop variety, a grower may want more sunlight or less sunlight reaching the crop. Many also trim back the canopy to avoid excess moisture retention and possible mold.
While summer trimming can be done with the same equipment as used for winter pruning, Binger Seilzug offers a few different leaf removers under the EB490 model name. This machine uses counter rotating rollers to pull leaves from the vine, while leaving the grapes unharmed.
While the full season of orchard and vineyard management is important, harvest often takes center stage, given it’s the money-making time of the cycle. In California, RDO Equipment Co. offers two brands of grape harvesting equipment, Gregoire and ERO, with ERO also available in Washington. Both brands of machinery offer built in destemming, which results in a very clean end product headed to the wineries.
Year-Round Results The Complete Picture
More than three decades after the launch of the first grape harvesters, manufacturers continue to deliver new equipment opportunities for orchards and vineyards. Machines and attachments are now available to offer growers year-round support, starting with canopy management, continuing with maintenance and spraying, and lasting through end-of-season harvest.
The future of mechanization in orchards and vineyards is bright. RDO Equipment Co. is excited to be a trusted support and solutions provider for these growers.
About the Author
Jason Kreps has worked at RDO Equipment Co. more than 10 years. As Regional Sales Manager, he’s focused on bringing new solutions and technology to orchard and vineyard growers through demonstrations, one-on-one educating growers, and partnerships with RDO Equipment Co.’s agronomists. Connect with him on Twitter @RDOJasonK.
Find out more about orchard equipment and vineyard equipment and supplies offered by RDO Equipment Co. To find out more about agriculture equipment for sale, used agriculture equipment, or precision agriculture technology, contact your local RDO Equipment Co. store.