Just a quick post on vine tying and buying the correct wire. Two years ago a friend of mine and fellow winemaker, John Mason, invested in a Pellanc Tie Tool. Has made tying vines to the wires much easier.
When you tie vines you need to pick out the correct wire. Tie wire for the Pellanc comes in 4 grades based on how long it will last in the field. For cane pruned vines you only want the ties to last 1 year and then be able to pull the canes from the wires easily. I used the second softest grade of wire, the first softest tends to jam in the tool.
I learned an obvious but good lesson this year. Since the wire is designed to fall apart after 1 year, get new spools every year. What you see above and in detail below is the tie wire that I left in the tool since last spring. Notice how the cover has come off the wire. I didn’t change the spool and it jammed and didn’t work. Took me about 15 minutes to realize why….duh, you need a new spool, the old one is doing what it was designed to do, fall apart after a year! Good thing I only had one spool leftover from 2015. FYI…I will use 9 of these spools in my boutique vineyard and take me about 12 hours to tie.
Last year I used a Tapener to tie the canes to the wires. Imagine doing this 10,000 times and using brown tape. This year my friend, John Mason at EMTU Estates, and I decided to purchase a Pellanc Tie tool and share the expense. Why share? You only have to tie once per year and the tool is expensive. The advantages of this tool are that it is at least 3x faster than by hand and you can use biodegradable twist ties. In addition you save yourself the exposure to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is prevalent due to performing the same task over and over in the vineyard. Just for me…I have 3130 vines…so you do the same thing many times.
As you can see the tool’s energy is supplied by a battery pack that you belt on…and all you do is load a very long tie that is cut when you pull the trigger. The battery is supposed to last 10,000 pulls…or almost enough to do my entire vineyard. However, given the monotonous nature of tying, I will probably only do a few hours at a time until I finish in about 10 hours.
So….since our vines are small still, this year we will only be tying the trunks to the 3’ tall rebar at the start of the season. This is to ensure that the trunks grow straight and tall. I asked everyone I know and they all said the best thing to tie them with is “green” plant tape. The reasoning is that the trunk will continue to grow and the tape will last a few years and stretch with it. Next year we might be able to tie the canes to the fruiting wire assuming that the canes are big enough. I hope I can use a more automated system to save time…..again, just multiply the seconds for each plant to get the hours it will take me to complete the task…..15 seconds equals almost 15 hours of vineyard time!!!
Oh….since we are a small boutique vineyard I found brown colored “green” tape. It is the same color as the vines so it blends in to the vineyard.
Below I put pictures of the process…..1) The tool is open, 2) When you lightly close the Tapener it grabs the “brown” tape, 3) Then you push it around the vine and rebar, 4) Finally you staple the tape and it cuts it to length.
Pretty easy, except I have to do this around 9,000 times!
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.