So, for any of you that have followed my blog you know that when we originally planted our Pinot Noir in 2010 the nursery accidentally included a little over 50 Merlot and 5 Chardonnay bench grafts. We didn’t realize what the Merlot were until our second harvest in 2013. The last 2 years we have made Merlot wine…but it is very difficult to handle them in the vineyard as they are spread out over many rows. (The got mixed up in our planting process). So…we decided to graft them over to the Pommard clone. In Part 1 I showed how we cut off last years canes during pruning and put them in our extra refrigerator…so what is next?
1 -Take them out of cold storage (~36F) for a day and soak one end in water.
In the picture below you can see the buds on the canes. These will be used for bud grafting.
2 – Hire a grafter…seriously, for many other varieties the success rate is >98% but for Pinot Noir you are lucky to get 90% and for those who don’t know what they are doing much less.
3 – The grafter will cut off the trunk of the vine about 2′ above the ground.
4 – Then they notch the trunk on two sides and notch out two buds from last years canes.
5 – They then place the buds into the notches and hold them in place with tape.
6 – You then cover with a grow tube to keep direct sunlight off them.
7 – Lastly, you wait about three weeks when the canes should appear and you can take the grow tube off. You may or may not get any grapes, but the important part is for it to grow strong this year so it can be pruned into shape next spring.
Why in my first picture I have grow tubes with and without red tape? The red tape denotes the bud grafts and the normal grow tubes are replants that gophers/mowers/trimmers killed the previous few years.
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