Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cold May

Well this was quite possibly the warmest winter on record for this region and a wonderful warm April (average 8.0 and a low of -5.6). December was the coldest month with a average of -6.5 and a low of -20. Our January was warm with an average of -0.5 with the coldest recorded temp of -9. February average was 1.9 with a low of -6. March average was 3.7 also with a low of -6. May on the other hand has been cold and there has been little growth since the end of April. If the warm weather of April had continued on into May we would have had bud break around May 5-7th but the cold came and it was delayed until approximately May 16-18th at the end of a week of really nice if not hot weather. Between May 12 and may 15th we had day time highs between 27 c and 31 c. The buds pushed and were leafing out but then between May 21 and May 24 we had night time lows of -1.4 to -2. The frost that came with the cold damaged some of the emerging shoots but not too severely.

This is the coldest May in the three years I've been recording. 2008 May average was 13.45, 2009 May was 12.0 and for 2010 it is 11.4. But the day time highs have been normal averaging around 21, it is just that the lows have been way below normal. However, the cold has not been just our site. In fact the entire region has been under this cold spell. Here are some local weather stations with their normal May average and the 2010 May average.

Salmon Arm___13.0_______11.9

Were hoping for a quick turn around in this weather but the two week advanced forecast puts the temperatures at average if not just below average to June 14th. At this rate we wont have flowering until the end of June.

As for the vines budding out. The Ravat 34 is doing excellent. Probably about 90-95% bud survival rate and as of May 24th some of the buds were opening enough to show the flower clusters. So the buds appear to be fruitful. The next warm spell should bring them out so we can get a good look. On the other hand the Leon Millot did quite poorly this winter. These vines are in the row next to the Ravat with same soil structure and temperature profile that the Ravat is subject too. However, as of the end of last season the growth of the Ravat was more uniform and where as there were some Leon Millot vine that showed very vigorous growth will other were moderate. All the Leon Millot vines have live buds, some more than others.

In checking the buds to see which were live many were brown and dead but the cane was green and healthy. The winter lows were only -20 this past year so I don't believe the winter cold caused much damage however, the cold snap of October 6th, 2009 may have done some damage. These vines were just at the stage of shutting down and we would have harvested the grapes at the end of September. The cold snap in October was -9 and I think this weakened or killed many of the buds. Any that were weakened may have further died off with the winter low of -20 in December. As such we had about a 40% survival rate.

I recently read that Road 13 vineyard experienced some bud damage as a result of the October cold snap (see the January 29, 2010 posting) and there were similar reports from vineyards just south of the border (see link). What is also interesting is that my Joffre (sister vine to Leon Millot and from the same hybrid cross) also suffered great bud damage as a result of a cold snap of -12 we experienced in Edmonton in October 2009. None of the Joffre cuttings I took budded out.

We'll train the new Leon Millot canes up to the 5 foot high fruit wire and see what happens next year.

The five Ortega vines also are sending out shoots but they are very low in vigor and perhaps do not like the soil or site. I've heard they take a bit longer to establish but by the end of this year (3) we should have some decent growth so we'll watch how this one makes out this year.

As for the Blattners, Agria, Regent, and Pinot Noir, they are all coming into their second year. Most of them have poor bud survival from last years canes but there are new shoots coming from the base of the vines. This is not unusual for first year vines to send out new shoots from the base. As such the Petite Milo looks good lots of shoots emerging. The Cabernet Foch is tentative with a few of the plants showing growth and the Cabernet Libre has no visible shoots as yet. The Regent is slow and only a few plants are showing emerging buds or shoots. The Agria is doing the best of all for these and about half of the plants are sending up new shoots. What is particularly interesting is that they have come through the frost events better than most. As for the Pinot Noir there is no shoots as yet and I believe that many of the plants may not have made the winter -we will see.

Castel 19637 Grape

Many people have not heard of this grape but it has been cultivated as a red French-American hybrid for decades. Castel 19637 or Castel which is it's common name, is a cross between Cinsaut x V. rupestris.

Cinsaut itself is a high producer and can make an excellent wine (good blog details at this link - fun wine blog). In South Africa Cinsaut is also known as Hermitage and it was crossed with Pinot Noir to make Pinotage (Pinot Noir + Hermitage = Pinotage) Hence the name.

The Castel vine is also highly productive and has been reported up top 6 tons per acre. It is recommended for the shorter season areas of British Columbia and rated well in a variety trial held on Vancouver Island in the late 1980's (link - see The Duncan Project). Over the 5 years that grapes were harvested in this study the average Brix was 24, PH was 3.12, and the TA was 1.27. The five year average degree days accumulation was 900 from April to October. These are great numbers for such low degree day accumulations and are similar to the numbers that have been observed from this variety in trials in Minnisota which recorded Brix 23.9°, 3.05 pH, and 10.3 g/l of acidity. The comments on the wine from the Duncan Project were "red, intense colour, full body, attractive, earthy flavour, hybrid character, acidity." It is also widely grown in Denmark.
It has excellent cold hardiness to -30 c and disease resistance against Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew. It ripens in the same period as Leon Millot about 85-90 days from flowering to harvest. This variety is said to be excellent for the back yard grower as well as the commercial vineyard and is quite easy to manage. It can be trained to several styles including VSP or hanging curtain.

This variety is made into sevaral different syles including rose, fruity red and a complex big wine. The Castel I've tasted from Domaine de Grande Pre and Gaspereau Vineyards in Nova Scotia were both excellent and are very similar to Pinotage I've had from the Soljans Estate, New Zealand. Zanatta Winery and Cherry Point Vineyard on Vancouver Island both harvest this grape. Zanatta uniquely blends it with Cabernet Sauvignon to make champagne they call "Taglio Rosso" (Brut) and Cherry Point makes a varietal from Castel that they call "Forte". Here is a link to someone who has tasted the Cherry Point Castel

Here are some more links to information about this variety.
Castel link
Castel link

Friday, May 28, 2010

Clearing the Land - Frost Pocket

We had the land cleared around th existing vineyard spot in late April and to our surprise we found that the vineyard test spot is actually located in a small low area. So actually clearing the trees here will have a negative effect as it will allow all the cool air from the area recently cleared to pool at night in the vineyard. April was preety warm and the last week or so the vines were about a week from bud break if the weather were to stay the same.

As it happens, the spring and specifically the month of May has been the coolest of those recorded. Significantly so that the the vines as of May 25th were just slightly into bud break and we have had some tremendous variations in temperatures. Mid may we hit 31 degrees high and on the night of May 23th we had a low of -2 with obvious frost that cuased damage.

What is particularly interesting is that I took separate reading from separate data loggers on the 23rd, 24th , and 25th of May to capture the night time lows at the 6" height level and at the 4'6" height level. Here is the night time lows recorded for a few of the dates at the different heights.

Height___ 6"___ 4'6"
May 23 ___-3____ -2
May 24 ___0_____ 2.4
May 25 ___0_____ 2.6

The higher elevation the warmer it is and one or two degrees can make a huge difference. Many vines in the early bud break stage can withstand a -2 low but not a -3 low. This is why a higher fruit wire cordon can bennefit the vines in a area that is prone to frosts.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Treatment of Cuttings Propagation Results

Last fall I took cuttings from my Acadie Blanc and Marechal Joffre in preparation for propagation this spring. Now as these plants originated from cuttings that came from Nova Scotia, the CFIA wanted me to treat these cuttings to ensure that there is no pest on them when I move them to BC.
I took the cuttings in late fall and they appeared good. However, when I took them out of cold storage they were very dry. I probably did not wrap them in enough damp paper towel an they dried out a bit over the 3 months they were in storage.
In early March two CFIA agents came to my house and watched as I put the cuttings through a hot water treatment. Basically the cuttings are immersed in a hot water bath for 5 minutes at about 43 Celsius then they are transferred and immersed in a second bath for 5 minutes at 52 Celsius.
After the treatment I let them sit in water for 24 hours to rehydrate some them planted them in 50/50 peat moss-pearlite mixture. They sat in a climate controlled room at about 10 degree celcius air temperature and on top of a warming mat that kept the root zone at about 26 Celsius.
After 6 weeks none of the Joffre cuttings showed any signs of life and two of the Acadie cuttings did bud out however, they both died a few weeks later.
Now that the vines that the cuttings came from are budding out I see where some of the problem came from. There are only a few Joffre buds on the original plants coming out and they are secondary buds. The Acadie has a few buds on the mother vine coming out but most are dead.
I think that the canes were damaged with the quick hard cold snap that occurred in early October. The temperature dropped over a few days from the mid 20's to minus 12. Also, with the Joffre this vine has a tendency to continue to grow vigorously late into the fall when it should be going dormant.
The result is that the cuttings that were treated did not produce any plants. I don't think the propagation results were negatively impacted by the hot water treatment of the cuttings. I think the cuttings were damaged when I took them in the fall and further deteriorated as i did not keep them moist enough.
Oh well, I will probably try this again this fall.