Sergio Castelo - Grupo Castelo

Better Size, Color & Consistency in Table Grapes with On Target

For years, Sergio Castelo used hand labor to apply growth regulators to his table grapes. “Common sense always told us that hand dipping would be better,” he said.

This past year, Castelo, who co-owns Grupo Castelo with his father in the Mexican state of Sonora, used four electrostatic sprayers from On Target.

The results? “It worked beautifully,” he said. “It has been amazing what it has done on the sizing and my coloring. I am saving a lot of money on labor, plus I am getting nicer, more even fruit with bigger size.”

Sizing and coloring, always important in table grapes, are particularly important for growers like Castelo, who exports 90 percent of his farm’s grapes. Even the smallest problem can get a shipment rejected, particularly when shipping into the U.S., where about 80 percent of their product goes.

“If there is a problem with size, I need to take the whole semitruck – and we are talking 1,800 boxes – back to Mexico,” Castelo said.

Castelo said he used On Target sprayers on all blocks but one this past year, and the difference was notable. “By far the On Target was better,” he said. “I also use it for my insecticides and fungicides.”

According to Castelo, On Target’s electrostatic properties make all the difference when it comes to maximizing performance of the farm’s growth regulators. When hand dipping, he said, drops tend to fall to the bottom of clusters. With On Target, the fruit is more evenly covered.

“It is like there is a sticker in there,” he said.

When it comes to coloring, the On Target sprayers provided such a boost to his Red Globe grapes that he had to push forward his harvest schedule this past year.

“I had to start picking fast, because they were getting too dark,” he said. “I have never had that problem before. Next year, I am going to lower the dosage, and I can load more of the vines with fruit without worrying about coloring.”

Another plus with On Target, Castelo said, is he is able to treat more acres per day than when applying product by hand. “I am able to cover about 180 acres a day, or 45 acres per sprayer,” he said.

Also, he said, On Target sent out a bilingual technician that made it easy to understand how to operate and maintain the equipment. “He trained my team how to set up and program the computer and how to maintain the sprayer,” he said.

“This technology has been one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in my career here,” Castelo said. “It has been amazing what it has done for my sizing and coloring.

“My plan is to buy more sprayers,” he said. “I would like to do one-hundred percent of my branches with On Target electrostatic sprayers.”