In the second year of the vines life after planting dormants, you have to develop the trunk. Earlier in the spring we thinned the shoots to two and now after the threat of frost has pasted, we pick one and tie it to the rebar. This will become our trunk for next year. Remember, the shoot has to be at least the width of a pencil by the end of the growing season. In addition, to develop good shoots for 2012, I’ll cut the shoot down to 30” when the shoot is 4 1/2 feet tall. Learned that in one of my classes from Daniel Roberts! He is a very high end consultant here in Sonoma that came to one of my classes at the Junior College.
So, if you saw my post last week, you can see that our little vines are growing well this year. I thinned the plants to 2 shoots so all the vegetative growth is to develop a trunk. One of those will be the trunk of the vine for the rest of its life….so very important. The key this year is to get the shoot to grow to “pencil” thickness. That will get the plant set to give us grapes in 2012!!! I know that is what all of you are hoping for…..samples of Turtle Vines wine.
In order to get the fertilizer to the plant, we will use an injector to siphon out the fertilizer from a container to the drip system. The key, is to ensure that the fertilizer gets to the roots and does not stay on the surface. So….you have to run the drip system for about 1/2 hour to wet the ground, siphon in the fertilizer, and then run the water again to push it to the roots. In my case that took x hours to fertilizer and then y hours to push it to the roots. I will do this twice this year and then probably every year in the spring.
Growing grapevines is a tricky compromise between growth and starvation. In one case, you want them to grow fast to develop good trunks and root systems. However, you don’t want them to get to big because later in life you want them to put all of their effort into the grapes and not into the plant. This is called a balanced vine and for premium vines, you want as small a plant as possible that will produce between 2-3 pounds of Pinot noir per vine. If you remember from last year, we picked a root stock that would not grow to vigorously, so we are set on that account.
Well, this is our “second leaf” and this is the time for getting a trunk the size of a pencil (at least). So, I’m going to fertilize at least twice this year to make sure I get enough of a trunk so in the “third leaf” we will get grapes. In baseball terms…..I’m going to “juice” the vines. Let’s hope it is enough.
For an organic vineyard I’m going to use liquid fish fertilizer. In order to make sure it gets to the root system, you have to run water thru the drip system, run the fertilizer and then run water again. This will drive the fertilizer to the roots.
Most people think that when you have an organic vineyard you don’t use chemicals. Not true. You just use organic chemicals ….. and keep good records of what you put on the land. In my Santa Rosa JC class this week a speaker outlined what to use. For Organic materials you have to use them about 10 days apart as they are not as strong as conventional materials. The following is used for mildew/botrytis.
Stylet Oil with copper
– Sprayed for 2.5 hours on 4/27. Sprayed a total of 20 gallons of a 1% Stylet Oil and 15 tsp of Nordox copper.
Micronized Sulfur (2X)
Stylet Oil with copper
Sonata and alternate with Seraonade (5X total)
If you find other bugs like European Grape Moths (in the trap the county put on our land above) you have to spray for that also.
By the way, I found out this week that when you put hay on for winter to prevent erosion, it does not have to be organic. Didn’t know that until Thursday.
In 2009 I saw a deer on the land as we were discing the land…..but none since then. Which is very good as deer (as everyone knows) like to eat tender plants. And guess what is tender right now, grape vine shoots….all 3200 of them. Well, today as I was mowing/weed whacking 2 little deer wandered onto the land around noon. I ran after them to get them off the land. I put up a temporary fence (above) and parked the truck in the driveway. Hopefully this will keep them away until I can get a fence up this next week. If not……either I lose a lot of plants or I stay up all night waiting for them. Hopefully they didn’t tell their friends!
I’m not sure many of you knew this, but this is a very important time for Turtle Vines!!! Last year the vines just grew and developed roots. This year we get to develop the trunk of the vine. So, it is now about 3 weeks after bud break. Most of the vines have 3 or 4 shoots coming from the plants. The first thing we do is thin this to 2 and let them grow. For the next 6 weeks, I’ll tie them up and let them grow. Around June 1, I pick the best and then take the weak sister out. Hopefully the one left will grow to the width of a pencil as this will be the trunk for next year.
Just some work so far this month.
4/15 Mowing 1 hour, shoot thinning 1 hour
4/19 Mowing and repairing mower 5 hours
4/20 3 guys/2 hours each shoot thinning – hired
4/21 3 guys/4 hours each shoot thinning – hired
4/21 2 hours weed whacking/mowing
4/22 2 1/2 hours weed whacking/mowing
4/23 3 hours weed whacking/mowing
4/25 3 hours weed whacking/mowing
4/27 2.5 hours spraying
4/28 6 hours fertilizing and marking plants to replace next week