Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Pruning - Vine Health 2013

Did the first round of pruning in early April this year - should have been in March at the latest but time and weather were a factor.  Remarkably we haven't had any snow on the ground in the vineyard since the early part of March and already the weeds are coming up and making a go of it.  We also had a stretch of warm weather at the end of March where the day time highs were touching 20 c.  

So it should not have been to much of a surprise that when I did the pruning that the canes were bleeding already.  I checked the data logger and this has been the warmest winter we've had since we started taking winter temperatures.  The coldest weather we had was -18 one night and there have been a lot of obvious freeze thaw events when day time temperatures exceeded 5 to 10 c and night time then would dip down to between -5 and -10.  We also had very little snow with barely 2 feet of cover through most of the snow pack season.

The freeze thaw events and the vine stress experienced by some vines last summer have combined to cause significant damage to the canes of some varieties.  Most notably the Colmar and Triomphe suffered the greatest cane and bud damage.  Interesting they are from the same parental cross.  In the same row the Lucy Kuhlman and Marechal Foch suffered less with the Foch doing better between the two.  The winter should not have been very hard on the Foch but the water stress leading into winter did not allow the vines to prepare for winter very well.

Having said that virtually all other varieties have come out from the winter in good to great shape.  The Ravat 34 again is tremendous and the Leon Millot has the best survival rates that I've seen since I planted them. 

Castel looks good and was already into scale crack.  The Acadie, Petite Milot and Evangeline also look good and the Marquette and St. Croix were superb.  On the other hand the Vandal Cliché has died back to the ground on many of the vines and yet this vine is supposed to be hardy to -35c and my vines are young.  Again, I expect the freeze thaw cycles may have had a big effect on this variety also.

Marechal Joffre again had some die back along with Regent, Seyval Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zweigelt but again these varieties had varying degrees of stress going into the fall.

The oldest of the vines, the Ravat and Leon Millot did excellent and they are now 5 years old with well developed root systems and this effect on their winter survival is evident.  As the other vines mature I expect the winter survival rates will improve.

With any luck we'll have bud break the 3rd week of May (normal) and no late spring frosts.  In any event we double prune and have left a little over double the bud count for the vines.  If we do experience a late frost, then hopefully we'll have enough remaining buds to produce a decent crop and otherwise well prune back the rest of the buds 1-2 weeks after bud break.