Friday, August 25, 2006

Rain, Rain go away

It has rained about 5 inches here in Madison over the last day and a half. My foch in the backyard are splitting .... not ideal grape ripening weather. I just spoke with my brother James, and he said they have only had about a half an inch over the last several days. We are expecting a bit drier weather over the next week. Maybe I will be harvesting Labor day weekend ... I'm still think the weekend after or even the following weekend. I'll take my next sugar and acid measurements Thursday or Friday.

I got an email earlier today from the Mitchel vineyard. They are planning to start picking foch this Tuesday. Not sure if the recent rains will affect them or not. .... It has been a bit drier down there than my back yard.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ripening progress

I checked the brix this Sunday the Foch ranged from 15.6 to 17.2. The average was 16.1. There are several green berries on each bunch. I would estimate that about 85% of the berries have completely changed. I also checked the TA and p.h. The TA was off scale (greater than 1.4) and the ph was running 2.6 - 2.8. So there is a lot of ripening to go.

We got about an inch of rain over the last week, so that may slow down the ripening a bit. If we get a dry warm stretch, they may be ready to harvest Labor Day weekend, but I am going to try to wait until the following weekend.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Overnight Verasion?

I just got a call from my brother who lives next to the vineyard. He said that he took a walk through, and nearly every bunch of foch grapes had completely changed color!
They were 90% - 95% green on Saturday! (see the previous post) Maybe I'll be harvesting sooner than I thought. I'll measure the brix this weekend and see where things are at. I had thought picking would happen the weekend after Labor Day. Maybe I'll be picking Labor day weekend now?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The nets are up, verasion just starting, and some brix numbers

I and two of my nephews put about 350 ft of nets over the foch this weekend. We only put them over the foch on the west end of the vineyard where the vines are older and are bearing this year. I'll need about another 1500 feet of net for next year.... at $0.50 a foot not a cheap investment!

It was fairly easy to put up, but it will be a pain to take down.

I got my new refractometer this week. Friday evening (8/11/2006) I collected some foch, Saint Pepin and Lacrosse to take some readings.

Foch 8.8 brix (verasion is just starting)
Landot Noir 4.3 Brix (verasion has not started)
Lacrosse 4.2 brix
Saint Pepin 10 brix

Here is a picture of what I saw with the foch. A few berries have changed, but most are still green. I hope to pick when they reach about 21 brix ... hopefully the TA will .8 or lower.

I also started preparing for next year's planting ... Right now I am planning on planting 200 vines. Hopefully I can get the new Marquette varietal. I mowed and measured out the plot on the East side of the field. I plan on hitting it with some herbicide next weekend, and then till it before the winter.

Next years location for planting

The experimental pit vineyard is having its problems. Until I get the high tunnel up, it will continue to be decimated by deer. I've tried all of the deterrents I can, but the vinifera must be irresistible. They one again did a number on the vines. The damage is severe enough, that they have destroyed any possibility for a crop next year. I will bury the vines for the winter in early November, and hope for the best next year. If everything goes well, I will have a small harvest from them in 2008.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Verasion hasn't started yet


Verasion hasn't started yet, but some of the foch grapes seem to have an inner blue glow. I don't remember what preceeded verasion last year, but I think they should be changing in the next week or two.

I have a few grapes hanging on some of the other varietals ... here is some Landot Noir.
Landot Noir

I don't have any grapes hanging on the Saint pepin Vines, but should next year.

Saint Pepin

I also had some help this weekend. Five of my nephews, and one of my neices helped put down some stone mulch around the La Crescent vines planted this year. Here is a couple pictures as proof to their parents, that they actually worked ... or at least that they could pose for pictures so that they look like they are working. :)

Also ... we have been getting lots of rain lately ... another couple of inches in the last week. Things are very green for early August.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bird nets

After verasion, and the grapes are near being ripe, they become more attractive to birds. I read of small vineyards being stripped clean in just a few hours. I only will have a small crop this year, but I think I should try to protect them. I looked at possibly buying audio deterrents ... these are recorded bird distress calls, played back at random to deter birds. I also looked at visual deterrents. Much of what I read claims that the visual deterrents are not very affective. And finally I looked at physical barriers.

Audio deterrents
-easy to put up
-lasts many years
-moderate cost
-other growers in Wisconsin claim successful use
-may attract other predators, which may aid in keeping birds out
-unobtrusive visually
-Needs AC, or car battery, if battery needs to be changed frequently or recharged
-birds get use to it
-questions about effectiveness
-may bother neighbors

Visual deterrents
-fairly inexpensive and durable
-often easy to erect
-no noise to annoy neighbors
-looks goofy with junk all over the place
-unproven or not affective

Physical barriers (nets)
-Very affective
-One time cost
-difficult to put up
-difficult to take down
-can be expensive for large vineyards

Since the audio and visual deterrents are not known to be affective, and I only have a few hundred pounds of grapes to protect this year, I decided to get some bird nets. I don't have a lot of vines to cover this year, so I got 4 nets that are 14' by 100'. These should comfortably cover the vines with the most production.