Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not "Organic" Just Old Fashion Farming

So its been the hottest and the dryest summer we have ever had. The grapes are still good but the vines are suffering from the drought a bit. One of the things we do at Arrow Lakes Vineyard is cultivate between the rows to eliminate the weeds. Then we allow a small strip of weeds and grasses to grow right under the vines. This is in stark contrast to many other vineyards that have grass between the rows and clean strip under the vines but its a vineyard practice that has been successful in many organic based vineyards.

We are not a certified organic vineyard but we have been practicing pretty much organic style of farming not unlike the way my great grandfather farmed over 100 years ago.  He didn't have spray for fungus or insects or weeds, just the plow to keep the weeds down. So far the practice has been good for us as this is the 10th summer of growing grapes and we have not had a bad insect or fungus problem.

Not to say we haven't had some insects attack the vines but the grass and weeds that are allowed to grow up into the vines has also allows for a mini ecosystem for spiders and other preditory insect that keep bugs like leafhoppers to a minimum. As for fungus, we have occasionally had a touch here or there but what we have had has not been problematic as most of the test vines are fungal resistant - so we haven't had to spray for fungus.

The value of cultivating between the rows has eliminated pretty much any competition for water from weeds or grass. Any water in the soil or that happened to fall goes pretty much straight to the grape vines. So we need very little in the way of supplimental irrigation.

Not to say this could all fall apart, we could get a bad insect attack or huge fungal pressure some year(s) - you never know what the next year could bring but after 10 years so far so good.