Well, as the vines are making great progress, I can’t forget to continue to do maintenance to keep the vines in good shape.
First, I had about 250 vines that were to small to grow grapes, so I two-budded them down to the ground and put on grow tubes. The end of May the vines were large enough to remove the grow tubes and when the “trunk” is about pencil width I cut them off at rebar height to encourage them to grow thicker.
In addition, it is now time to begin weeding the area right next to my weed cloth….what fun. Although a lot of work, it is much better than without the weed cloth.
Every year I have to do a plant replacement program. Some don’t grow big enough, some the gophers eat (the roots), some get hit by a weed whacker….you get the idea. I went through the vineyard and re-planted around 50 vines and determined that another 200 or so the trunks were not big enough to use, so I cut them back to the ground. It will help in the long run, but was sad when I had to cut them off.
In the picture above, all of the vines with “grow tubes” are either replants or I have cut them off. This is a particularly bad section.
I figure I started with 3130 vines and I replanted or started over approximately 300 vines so I have 2800 vines for my first harvest. If I get 0.5 lbs per plant, I’ll get 1400 lbs……enough for 600 bottles.
As you can see from the picture above, we have all the vines now tied to the rebar. Some of them are already 3.5’ tall. When they get to 4.5’ I’ll cut them off to 30” in preparation for cane pruned grapes next year! Speaking of them growing fast…….I need to add my 4’ wire in a few weeks so they have something to hang on to while they are growing.
Lastly, below is a list of hours and activities for May. In case you are keeping track…..128 hours for Doug this year and 107 hired (if you don’t count the 24 hours of tree trimming)
Totals for May – Doug….47.5 hours…..hired…..23 2/3 hours
May 31 – 2.5 hours mowing/weeding
May 30 – 1.5 hours spraying
May 26 – 1.5 hours weeding
May 25 – 2 1/4 hours weeding/whacking/mowing
May 24 – 4 hours weeding/mowing/wires/setting up irrigation
May 23 – 2 hours mowing and weeding
May 17 – 3 hours spraying
May 16 – 2 hours mowing
May 12 – 1 hour planting dormants to replace nursery row plants
May 11 6.5 hours shoot thinning and replants and 13 hours hired ($180)
May 10 – 5 1/3 hours shoot thinning and 10 2/3 hired shoot thinning ($130)
May 9 – 4 hours shoot thinning
May 6 – 1 hours gopher training
May 5 – 6 hours …. 1 mowing, 1 digging, 1 shoot thinning, 1 spreading fertilizers, 2 front vineyard
May 4 – 3 hours digging and getting compost for front yard
May 3 – 2 hours tying, thinning
Well, 2011 has been a very good year so far for the vineyard. For the first 6 weeks of the year we have seen snow storms in most of the country and here in Sebastopol is has been mostly warm and dry (rains are back this week). And as they say in the farming business……”Make hay while the sun shines”. So if you have read any of the other posts….I have been getting the vineyard in shape for the year. Here is the summary of what I have done this year.
Weed whacking 11 hours
Mowing 4 hours
Flaming 5 hours
Removing grow tubes 12 hours (8 of which I hired)
Hand weeding 69 hours (40 of which I hired)
Collecting weeds 13 hours (4 of which I hired)
Pruning 14 hours (all hired)
I didn’t count going to the dump as that is fun!!!…….so 62 hours for me and 66 I hired. About right….I want to do 30-50% of the work.
So you ask….what is next?
– Have to keep the vineyard in good shape by flaming/weeding and mowing.
– Replace vines that did not grow last year or that the gophers ate
– Plant Joey’s Sauvignon blanc vineyard in the front
– In March we start “Juicing” the vines….otherwise known as fertilizing
– Tying the vines up as they grow in April thru August
– Gohper trapping
– Install fruiting and canopy wires
Some pics below of the rows after flaming and yesterday with the rain.
Grow tubes for vines are a very interesting proposition…..
– Do you need them or not? grow tubes help prevent frost damage, help the plants grow due to their color and protect from rabbits and deer…..but they are a pain when you need to prune/tie.
– What are you going to do for weed control? If you are going to spray with Round-Up you need grow tubes the first few years so you don’t kill the vines. Also, they protect the plants from weed whacking.
– New or used? New grow tubes cost anywhere between $0.75 and $1.25 depending on the type and volume. Used grow tubes $0.20 to $0.25 but they won’t last as long. As you can see from the picture below I probably lost around 10% this year due to degradation…..the sun is bad for them and they probably can be used 5-10x before they crumble and break. In my case, I had a very nice vineyard manager loan me 1200 tubes which I’m returning on Tuesday….thanks Klopp Vineyards !!! The rest of mine I will try and sell to someone else this year.
Oh, one funny thing…..I have a new vineyard manger this year who showed up and said it was time for me to put the grow tubes back on…….NOT going to happen…..don’t have rabbits or deer, no round-up and I’m now good at weed whacking and will be easier to tie up the vines without them. As for the frost…..will see in March and April if this was a good decision.
These I’m trying to sell and the ones in the field will go to the dump.
After 2 1/2 months our vines are now above the grow tubes….about 3 1/2 feet. It is a glorious site to see. For the next 2 months they will continue to grow and hopefully develop a great root system.
I included below a picture of some of the bigger plants. In addition, the last picture is one of our nursery rows. We planted 25 extra of each clone since all of the original will not make it. Already it looks like about 30 have not grown at all.
Michael (from the nursery) came out today and gave a thumbs up to the health of our plants….so far, so good.