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.