The Loire is essentially a region of increasingly consolidated family holdings; the average holding has increased from 10 to 25 ha in recent years and many farmers have abandoned their other crops to concentrate on viticulture. In the middle Loire, rainfall is relatively low, but spraying against fungal diseases is still frequent elsewhere. vine density is relatively high, between 4,000 and 5,000 plants per ha (1,600–2,000 per acre) on average, and up to 10,000 plants per ha in some Sancerre vineyards. Excess vigour was a problem in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and resulted in herbaceous flavours in many of the red wines, although canopy management has generally resolved this. cover crops have long been the norm, and crop thinning was introduced in the early 1990s. mechanical harvesting is relatively common, but cannot be used for the sweet white wines of the middle Loire, where successive tries through the vineyards are needed to select only the ripest grapes.