Protect Your Vines: Can UV Lights Defeat Mildew

As scientists worldwide are trying to combat the coronavirus threat, some of their methodologies are finding applications beyond the pandemic. Winemakers, ever the innovators, have seen how UV lights are being employed in HVAC systems to help reduce dangerous microbes in the air and saw a potential application in their ongoing campaign against mildew on grapevines.

In a recent Wine Spectator article, writer Lynn Alley reports that vintners are installing ultraviolet light components to their HVAC systems to protect people from COVID-19 and their plants from mildew. Many vintners employ chemical fungicides, but organic and sustainable growers often use organic Sulphur to control powdery mildew in their vineyards. The chemical fungicides aren’t necessarily immediately dangerous to consumers, but they are costly and dangerous to the environment. Plus, writes Alley, “the fungus typically adapts to the fungicides within a few generations, requiring heavier applications or changing formulas.”

The use of UV light in the fields isn’t a brand new practice. Research has been conducted on it for a little while now. Scientists know that UV light will kill bacteria, viruses and fungi, but figuring out how to apply this finding in a working field has proved challenging. Vintners have employed self-driving robots or simple tractors with UV lights mounted on them, but they have to apply it at night when pathogens cannot self-repair their DNA.

An international consortium of scientists known as the Light and Plant Health Project has teamed up with SAGA Robotics in Norway to develop the first commercial robot fitted with UV lights, and we can’t wait to see the results.

At Skolnik, we continue to do our part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens in the wine industry and beyond with our easy-to-sterilize stainless steel wine barrels and other containers.