Monday, May 17, 2021

"I am Groot" - Bulk Grape Vine Propagation

We propagate about 50-75 vines each year and depending on the variety we get up to 90% propagation rate to as low as 30%. This year we have a challenge. We are expanding our vineyard and we ordered hundreds of vines from a commercial vine supplier in Ontario only to find out that they went bankrupt, or were sold the other large commercial vine supplier, or we don't really know because their phones don't work, no email response, no one to tell us if we will get our deposit back for the order we placed (we highly doubt it).

So what can we do - well, if you've seen the Marvel movie "Guardians of the Galaxy" then you know about re-growing a plant. You are probably also familiar with the line "I am Groot" delivered by the tree-like character named Groot. (seen at left with co-star Rocket the Racoon). In this movie Groot gets smashed to a hundred pieces of wood after the space ship they were in crashed, but they re-grow Groot from a stick fragment. From the perspective of someone who grows grapes, I was most curious about the propagation of what was left of Groot after they crashed in the space ship.

Seemingly, all that was required to re-grow Groot was to take a stick fragment of the former Groot and stick it into a pot with soil and before

long the stick will grow (photo at right). Particularly interesting as that is the same way one can propagate grape vines - you take a healthy cutting of one of the canes from the grape vine, stick it in a pot of soil and watch it grow. Of course you need to keep it watered and give it sunlight but that will pretty much do it.

So we are growing our own vines this year, about 1500 of them, and enough for nearly 2 acres. Looks like an entire army of Groots. So far so good, the cuttings are budding out nicely, but they almost always bud out nicely at the start. Its the next stage of forming the roots that the vines can fail. We try to help that along by dipping the soil end of the cutting in rooting hormone to help stimulate the growth.

We have lots of buds starting to push out on our "Groot" vines (Marechal Foch seen at left) and they should be leafing out soon.

We've blogged about how to grow grape vines from cuttings before so here is the link. Growing Grape Vines Form Cuttings

Monday, May 10, 2021

Row Cover Clover

So since 2008 we've plowed between the rows to eliminate weeds and provide more soil moisture for the vines. The soil is both sandy and low in nutrients so it holds little moisture and provides little nutrients to the vines. Yet the vines grow, albiet slower than what one may expect and takes 6-7 years to reach full maturity.

Now that the vines are fully established we are seeding clover in ever second row. We started this last year and this spring it is coming up great and so now we are continuing with planting the clover in the rest of the vineyard. The clover will help to build the soil over the years yet it will consume alot of soil moisture. However now that the vines are mature with full and deep root systems they are less prone to soil water deficiency. In fact, over the past few years the vast majority of or vineyard has really not received any irrigation. 

There are a few things at play here here that help us eliminate the need to irrigate. 

  • Once the vines are mature, about 6 years old, they've developed a significant and deep root system that supplies their needs. 
  • Second, while we usually dont get any rain from early July to the end of August, our season is short, about 150 days/5 months long, so we dont have extremely long and extended periods without rain. In relation to this the snow usually doesn't finish melting until early April and its only 3-4 weeks later the vines are budding out. In contrast, varieties that take 180 days/6 months to ripen would suffer if in that extra month of drough was not replenished with irrigation or rainfall.
  • Third, we leave extra spacing between the rows, while limiting production, so this give a larger area for each vine to draw water from.
  • It is not uncommon to get cool summer evenings that result in precipitation of significant dew on the leaves and even the soil that help replenish some moisture. We blogged about that previously see link Moisture From Air
  • We usually get sporadic rains in May and June and the soil is still flush with moisture until mid July and then it starts to deplete. There is usually enough weter in the soil and from rain to fill out the grapes and then by the end of August, early September its pretty dry but in time for reducing soil moisture content heading into harvest.

The clover will consume some of that valuable moisture but now that the vines are mature they can handle these conditions without irrigation and the clover will serve well to build the soil over time and provides a great habitat for bees.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Buds Starting To Push

Temperature changed quickly in March and April has been warm but still snow pack in the mountains and cold nights brings the fog and mist into the trees around the vineyard.

We had a -24c event overnight in early February. Its the second coldest temperature we've recorded since we started recording temperatures in 2008. Coldest wever ever had is -25c in 2008.

For alot of clasic grape types like cabernet, -23c is a dangerous temperature as the buds will die at that temperature. Our vines are hybrids and can withstand temperatures much cooler. 

Leon Millot is probably the least cold toletant but still withstands -27c easily or colder. Petite Milo, Castel and Evangeline are similar but Marechal Foch and L'Acadie Blanc tolerate cold in the -30c neighborhood.

So this time of year starts to give indication if there was any cold damage. Its exciting as its the first look at what the year might be and so far so good buds look healthy and all varieties are pushing out.