Friday, August 28, 2009

Vine Spacing and Training

Photo Leon Millot with 9 feet of growth this year trained to fruiting wire

The vineyards in France do not irrigate their grape vines and they typically get rain in amounts similar to what we expect to get at our site. They space the vines at about 3-4 feet apart and space rows 8 feet apart or less sometimes. We have used this as a measure of how far apart to space the vines and rows as we hope we can grow these vines without irrigation. As such we have the vines spaced at 3 and 4 feet test distances within the rows and rows are spaced 8 feet apart. This is about 1300 vines per acre.

We have also put a 3" thick mulch of bark and tree matter under the vines to preserve moisture and to provide nutrients to the soil around the vines. The strip of mulch under the vines is approximately 3 feet wide. While it is expected the mulch will help preserve moisture under the vines it will also insulate the soil in the spring, slowing the rate at which the soil warms and then slowing bud break to help avoid late frosts. Theoretically this is suppose to work but we'll see how this works in reality. Of interest is the original three Leon Millot vines that are unirrigated are also un-mulched and seem to have enough moisture and nutrients.

We are trying cane pruning and spur/cordon pruning methods with the different vines to see what works best, what makes quality, and what is easiest. We are also trying a VSP canopy and if vigor, moisture etc permit we'll try a divided canopy. The fruiting wire for the cordon or cane is about 24". This is a little low but takes advantage of the expected snow cover in winter, its insulating value and potential protection from the cold. A 30" fruit wire or even 36" fruiting wire would be ideal, but we're not taking chances with the cold. Maybe years from now when we know the climate a bit better we could change things a bit. Till then...