Sunday, August 23, 2015

Arrow Lakes Vineyard August 22, 2015 Grape updates

So here are the sugar levels/brix to date;
Leon Millot - 13
Lacadie Blanc - 14
Seyval - 18
Ravat 34 - 9
Vandal Cliche - 13
Marquette - 12
Evangeline - 17
Petite Milo - 16
Lucy Kuhlman - 15
Foch - 11
Triompe - 13
Colmar - 13
Regent - 11
Castel - 12

Looking good so far and about 2 weeks ahead of normal.
These are the numbers we usually get the first weekend in September.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Solar Power Drip Irrigation

I constructed a simple solar powered drip irrigation system to water the vines this year.  The system has two segments; the solar power generation/circuit and the water distribution system.

So the water distribution system works like this.
There are 150 vines on each leg of the distribution system.  The water pump is hooked up to a series of tanks (1500 gallons total) and pushes up to 180 gallons of water per hour and each of the 150 vines has a 1 gallon per hour drip emitter (so distribution for each leg is 150 gallons per hour).  So when the pump is running there is enough pressure at 180 gallons per hour flow to ensure the 150 gallons gets to the vines at approximately 30lbs per square inch of pressure.

The 12v pump is activated by a simple water pressure switch.  The switch activates when the pressure drops below 20 lbs per sq inch and shuts off when the pressure get up to 40 lbs per sq inch.

Each leg is on a timer.  I set the timer to go on for 1 hour every 3 days.  When the timer activates it opens up and the pressure in the line drops in the line below 20 lb per sq inch which activates the switch to turn on the pump.  The pump does its thing pumping up to 180 gallons per hour and because there is 150 drip emitters releasing water at 1 gallon per hour (so 150 gallons) on the leg it pushes the water out fast enough through the emitters so the pressure does not exceed 40lb per sq inch(so the switch doesn't turn off).  But after 1 hour the timer closes and the pressure behind it builds up to 40 lb per sq inch and the switch shuts off the pump.

I have added a pressure gauge in-line between the pressure switch and the timer to see how much pressure is in the line when it is running. When the pump is running it is usually at about 28 lb per sq inch. 

One thing to remember is that I have just enough drip emitters to keep the pressure at around 30 lb per sq inch otherwise if there were not as many the pressure may be too high in the line and the switch would turn off the pump. I had anticipated this and hooked up a hose at the end of the leg of the drip emitter line that could be partially closed off manually and thus set to regulate the pressure. The line loops back tot the water tank putting the excess water back into the tank.  Fortunately I did not need to use this.

I can run this 4-5 weeks without having to refill the water tank.

The solar generation/circuit works like this;
The solar panel is 125 watt 12volt panel that charges a 12 volt battery though a 7.7amp charge controller.  The pump is wired to the battery through the pressure switch.  The pressure switch is the 120 volt model used on a pressure tank in a house but you can run 12v though it as it is just a switch.

Here is some pictures;

Mildew Pressure - This is new!

So what would the nearly perfect year so far be without something coming up to rain on the party.  For the past 7 years we've barely had a stich of mildew and really no rot to speak of.  This is a function of a few factors that I can think of the main one being that we have utilized mildew resistant varieties.  The other reason is we have cool nights which slows mildew development and dry summers with low humidity.

This year is an exception in several respects.  First off the vinifera varieties of Pinot Noir and Zweigelt have fruit this year. Again they are responding to the soil amendments.  These varieties are prone to developing powdery mildew and downey mildew as well as bunch rot.  Next it has not been cool in the nights it has been very warm with high humidity.  The rain has been a bit above normal also. 

As such the Pinot Noir is showing fungus mold on the bunches - not being too familiar with this I'm thinking its downey mildew based on how the vine bunches and leaves have been affected.  I clipped these clusters away.

I've noticed slight mildew on one bunch of the Marechal Foch and one Evangeline also.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Netting the Grapes

With the grapes already ripening up we have to net the grapes as it wont be long before the birds and wasps would take a liking to them.  The Evangeline is already at 13 brix and will begin to entice the wasps in a week or two as the sugars continue to build. 

We have two types of nets - one is a drape net that is white and we are using that on the white grapes that ripen the earliest.  So the Evangeline for instance.  This net is great , super strong, doesnt let the wasps in but it is quite dense so it shades alot of the vine and as it is white it also reflects the light.  It definitely slows the ripening so we'll put it on those that ripen early.

The dark nets are lighter and let more light in and do not reflect the light but would absorb it - possibly increasing the temperature ever so slightly at the micro-climate area right at the net.  Haven't actually measures the temperature differences etc.. this is just an assumption.  But as it lets more light through we have this netting on the later ripening varieties that need more light and heat such as Foch.

Veraison in July (Grapes are Ripening)

The heat has brought the grapes along so fast and early this year and as of the end of July we are seeing the grapes starting to turn in the ripening stage - a good 2 weeks early foresure.  The clear sign is the red grapes start to change colour - the Marechal Foch is turning, so is the Lucy Kuhlman, Castel, and Joffre. Leon Millot is unusually behind but again it was stunted due to the cane die back.  Its a bit harder to tell with the white grapes except that they begin to soften up.  Also the grapes will start to accumulate sugar so you can get out the refractometer and test some of them.  We tested those that were softening which was the Evangeline and surprisingly the Seyval.  Both were showing 13 Brix.  The Petite Milo, Ravat, L'Acadie Blanc were still quite hard.  Very surprising with the Seyval as it should be the latest ripening of all the white grape varieties we have - but we only started to get production from this vine last year and this year so are just starting to get to know it.
Here are the photos for July 31st.
Leon Millot

Ravat 34

L'Acadie Blanc


Marechal Foch