Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grape Update

July has been fairly close to normal in temperature. Days have been averaging 28c for highs but nights have been a bit cool averaging about 8c, which is about 2 degrees below normal. We're on track for an 18c average and if the nights were averaging 10 degrees (normal) we'd have a 19 monthly average. There has been plenty of moisture up until early July but little rain since. Having said that there is still good moisture in the soil at about 4-6 inches below the surface and beyond. The cool nights also dramatically increase the humidity (logger shows in the 80%-90% level) and this moisture in the air and that which collects on the vines is obviously helpful to the plants. I think it helps them rehydrate after the hot dry day and lowers how much water the vines lose at night to the air (transpiration).

The Ravat is doing well and clusters set fruit well. All the vines are at the 5 foot fruit wire and many shoots are several feet beyond that. These long shoots will be the cordon for next year. Here is a picture of the Ravat grapes and vines;

The Leon Millot looks ok, some vines are very vigorous and others not about 50/50. I did some vine pruning to limit shoots to the main one and eliminate laterals to force growth into the primary shoot.

The Agria are comming along they are slow but look healthy. Having said that there is some bug that just loves to munch on the primary shoot and in doing so it stops the upward growth and the vine sends out multiple laterals - think its a caterpillar or grasshopper. Many of the vines look like little shrubs instead. Have done some pruning on this again to try to correct this and bring the primary shoot around so it will grow up to the fruit wire.

The ortega again are lacking vigor. The blattners look ok, with Petite Millot and Cabernet Foch doing well. The Cabernet Libra less vigorous and one plant died over winter.

The Pinot Noir (115) did remarkably well. They were really planted in the worst of conditions and I would have been surprised if a few of the 10 plants survived. Having said that there are 7 of the original 10 vines that are growing. Slow growth, but growing

The Regent did the worst of all only 5 of the 14 vines survived winter and the growth this year is slow. Will try to get some long canes and layer in the spots where the vines died off.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interesting Vine - Honey Suckle?

Was wandering through the forest on the property and found this beautiful vine and flowers growing up a tree. Not grapes but interesting to see it growing in the midst of a dark forest with thick canopy overhead. I think it is a wild honey suckle.
It is heplful to find this plant and match it to a plant hardiness zone as this provides insight into the long term climate of the area. I had estimated the plant hardiness zone at the vineyard site as 5A to 5B based on the Plant Hardiness Zones of Canada Map. I found a reference to this Honeysuckle vine that grows in the interior of British Columbia in plant hardiness zone 5. Also the plant hardiness zone map noted above list some plant species common to different zones. In 5A Oregon Grape (holly) is common and we find alot of it at our site as well. So we are likely in zone 5A to 5B and these zones can experience winter lows between -29c and -23c. This knowledge is important for choosing what varieties of grape to grow. So far we've experience winter lows of -19c (2007/2008), -25c (2008/2009), and -20c (2009/2010).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Grapes are Late

We are cold at the experimental vineyard so far this year, and cold means late. The cold also had a terrible impact on the developing buds in late May. In an earlier blog I wrote about the -2 to -3 temperature we had in late May. Well that pretty much killed off the emerging buds and now only a few primary buids made it the rest are secondary buds on both the Ravat 34 and the Leon Millot. Good news is that some of the secondary buds produced clusters. You can see in the picture of Ravat 34 below, the dark reminant of the primary bud and the shoot from the secondary bud with a small cluster on it.

Here is a picture of one of a few shoots where the primary bud made it. Two clusters, Nice flowers.

The earliest Ravat clusters are just flowering so this is about 10 days late. Given a 90 day maturity for these grapes, at best, harvest would be about September 31st/October 1st.

The growth on the Ravat and Leon Millot is good (Ravat more even than the LM) and a few of the vines have already reached the 5 foot fruit wire.

As for the other varieties in the trial, the Agria is doing well with 17 of 18 plants comming back. The 5 ortega vines are growing but again very poor vigour. The Petite Millot looks very good, strong and healthy on all six plants, even budding out from last years cane, pretty much the same for the Cabernet Foch but not as vigorous. The Cabernet Libre had only 4 of 6 plants survive. The Regent had only 5 of 14 plants survive and 5 of 10 of the Pinot Noir survived. Now this is what is visible as of July 1st/2nd and some of the vines showed emerging shoots that were only a week or so old so it is possible that the others that appear lifeless may yet be alive and send up a shoot or two.