Wow, don’t know about you but the time between fall and spring seems to be getting shorter every year. Seems like just yesterday we were harvesting our grapes and making wine!
Every year the vines have to be pruned back to provide room for new growth, and if done correctly, provide balance between the amount of fruit and the vegetative growth. Pruning is done early spring. If it is done to early then your trunks can become infected with fungi, or Eutypa Dieback. Basically…your vines get infected and dieback over a number of years. Given all the time and money you have invested in them, you want to prevent this from happening so that your vines will last a few lifetimes. There are a few easy things to try and prevent this.
– Delay your pruning as long as possible in the spring. If the phloem and xylem (blood of the vines) are flowing when you prune the vines, the diseases will not adhere to the wood.
– Double prune – prune the vines in the winter to an intermediate length and then prune late when the phloem and xylem is active. You can see from the picture above that we have done this. Basically we cut the vines to about 6″ close to where they will eventually be pruned. One of the more difficult items in pruning is removing the old wood that is tied to the wires. If you do this first it makes the final pruning much easier to do and easier to see where the final pruning cuts should be located.
– Protectants can be used after you prune to inhibit the growth of fungi. In the case of an organic vineyard the only item I have found is Serenade at 3% which will out compete the bad fungi. We have used this in previous years.
– Lastly, make sure as you prune you sanitize your pruning shear initially and during your pruning session so as not to spread any diseases.
So, for Turtle Vines…pre-pruning is complete and now we are waiting for the correct time to prune! Can’t be to late as we had bud break the last week of February last year.
Below is a picture of a row that has been pre-pruned and the old canes removed. Notice that all of the vine ties are gone from last year. (the ones connecting the vines to the wires)
We now have 5 big piles of canes from 2015 around the vineyard. Soon they will be chipped and used around the property.
Our Hawk is back! What does this have to do with our 2014 Vineyard Plan you ask…well, we want to be good stewards of the land by being organic yet grow the best tasting Pinot Noir possible.
2014 Improvement Activities:
1. Install a second irrigation line to 500 weak vines
2. Prune aggressively for 2014 to push root growth and conserve water intake due to the drought.
3. Water vines until “set”, or until the renewal spurs have grown appropriately.
4. Test petiole’s at bloom and make adjustments
5. Incorporate seaweed concentrate into foliar spraying plan to decrease shatter, increase berry size and grow healthier vines.
6. Vary powdery mildew/botrytis spray plan with Botector and Sulfur, in addition to Serenade, Stylet Oil and Soda.
7. Experiment with removing the basal leaves early in the season to avoid powdery mildew/botrytis.
8. Monitor TA and pH along with brix as harvest parameters.
9. Subcontract out bigger jobs if possible.
Botrytis is a fungus that infects grape shoots, flowers, leaves and fruit. If your vineyard gets this fungus, think of a moldy melon, yuck! Why am I worried now? The spread of the fungus sportes is aided by summer rains, heavy dew and juice from split berries. The popular song…”it never rains in California”… is normally correct for Sonoma County. However, a rare storm is heading our way and will drop 1″-2″ of rain on the vineyard. Now I have to worry about Botrytis.
What can be done to prevent Botrytis?
– Have grapes that are not tightly packed. Sauvignon Blanc (see pictures) has a loose cluster but Pinot Noir (see picture) is a tight cluster grape, bad.
– Remove excess shoots and leaf around the cluster to get good air flow – done!
– Organically spray with Stylet Oil, Serenade Max or Sulfur right after it rains. I will do this Friday. Hope it is not to late.
Well the good news is that I needed the rain…the bad news is I may get botrytis in addition to driving potassium into the berries since we are between set and veraison. Lastly, if you look at the Sauvignon Blanc pictures…we will have a great crop this year!!!