Three Week Vineyard Checkup
I spent the weekend in Michigan working on the vineyard. The main tasks that needed to be done were dehilling the grafts and the first fungicide spray of the year.
While the weather has been warm we were worried that that lack of rain since planting (and lack of irrigation) would be holding back the vines. I had heard last week from my Dad that most of the vines were pushing out growth but we had no idea how much until I went back to see for myself.
It was pleasantly surprising to pull off the first few grow tubes and see some of the vines with serious growth. Of the first few that I looked most of them had around 10 inches of growth. Hard to believe that after only 3 weeks there was so much growth.
Everything was not great though. In the end it does appear that 4 of the 555 vines did not make it. Right now it looks like a couple started a little bit of growth and then died and couple more never pushed out any growth whatsoever. Hard to say why that was, perhaps lack of water was the reason for those couple, but either way we are pretty happy with only losing 4 vines so far. The bigger test will be to see how some of the vines that look weak currently make it through the winter.
It looks like the Chardonnay, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer are doing the best on average. The Cab Franc, Lemberger and Riesling look to have the weakest average growth but it’s hard to put much stake in the first 21 days of growth and how that will translate over the the rest of this year and years to come.
Unhilling the vines
Part of our warranty for the vines involved hilling up the graft union when we planted. This dirt cover was to remain on the graft until there was evidence of growth. Well there is clearly evidence of growth so it was time to take down the dirt from the graft.
I really wish we still had the planting crew around to take care of this project as it was a lot of work. For each vine we had to take off the grow tubes and then with either a hoe or our hands, pull the dirt covering the graft away and then placing the grow tubes back on each vine. Seems simple enough until you realize that you need to do that for each of the 555 vines we have…lucky for me I had my dad to help me on the second day. It took us a good five hours to finish up Saturday what I started on Friday.
The other main project that we needed to accomplish over the weekend was to begin spraying fungicides. Last week I made a trip to Tractor Supply to get a new 26 gallon spray tank. The setup came with a straight spray wand that we quickly realized was not ideal for spraying down into the grow tubes. A little modification with a conduit bender and we had our own custom spray wand.
When I was checking out the growth of vines on Friday I noticed everything looked to be in pretty good shape. There were a couple of leaves with a few black spots (black rot?) and a few leaves that clearly had some insect damage. I noticed that the rose chafers seemed to be out in large numbers but I’m not sure at this point how much damage they did to the leaves. To be safe I added a little Sevin to our fungicide spray mix to deal with them.
I had a little bit of time left before I needed to leave so I started working on mounting the fruiting wire to a couple of rows. Starting with the Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer rows we mounted the wire to both end posts and strung them onto each line post. After the wire was strung we attached each bamboo stake to the wire with training stake clips.
Too bad I didn’t have another day to mount more of the fruiting wires as the wind has blown over some of our grow tubes during the past couple of weeks and if we had them all attached to the wire they wouldn’t be going any place.
But all in all it was a good trip and we got almost everything done that we wanted to. When I come back in July we will finish putting all the rest of the fruiting wires up and connecting the bamboo stakes to the wires.