Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mistakes part 2

Okay now I'm up to vineyard mistake number 4. By the way I don't know how many of these I have. (or will have :)

Mistake 4. No soil test before planting.

Do a soil test the year before planting, and amend soil as needed. I did do a soil test in the second year. And discovered a significant potassium deficiency in the soils in Sampson. The first years of a vine's growth they really need to be babied. If the soil doesn't have right nutrients you will not see the growth needed in its first years of growth, and it will just take longer before you will be able to harvest a full crop.

Mistake 5. Planting too late in the spring.

Plant about 2 weeks before the average last frost. Okay this one may be debatable and only applies to root stock, not green house started plants. I've planted vines in 6 different years. In all years but one, I planted between May 10 and May 22. Typically last frost in the vineyard is around May 10. This year I planted near the end of April. This year's new plantings have done better than any other new plantings. I realize that one year is not a very large sample, but it will definetly be the philosophy I use in the future.

Mistake 6. No irrigation.

USE IRRIGATION!!!! This one has proven itself many times. I'm not saying you can't start a vineyard without irrigation, but there are huge advantages. here are a few:
-You will have a full crop sooner. I had a few vines that I was able to irrigate from when they were planted. The vine mass was several times that of unirrigated vines.
-avoid problems from drought. If I had irrigation last year, I would have been able to ripen my crop earlier, and they would have been higher quality. The vines would have also had time to harden off before winter, and I would not have lost the entire foch harvest for this year.
-you will have a method to avoid late spring frost, and early fall frosts. By using a sprinkler on nights that are predicted to get near 32F the latent heat of fusion from when ice freezes, can keep your vines shoots alive. It's will only buy you a few degrees, but that may be all you need.

Mistake 7. No deer protection.

Deer love young grape vines. Deer can eat back 3 months growth on new vines in an evening. When I eventually put in a solar electric fence, the deer left the vines alone.

Mistake 8. Underestimating the damage that Rose Chafers can do.

I tried to ignore the problem, then I tried some organic control methods. Finally I hit them with Sevin. After 6 years, I think I am finally starting to get a handle on this problem. I think the traps definitely helped this year, but future years are where I really hope to see their benefit. Next year I'm going t use the traps again, but I will also try Surround. Surround is the brand name for Kaolin Clay. Hopefully I can control the rose chafers entirely through organic means. If the Surround does not work, I will hit them with Sevin ... at least those vines not blossoming.

Wow .... I have so many more mistakes to list, but it's late .... I will probably continue this over the weekend or maybe next week.


Linnea said...

Interesting update! Those rose chafers sound like wretched little beggars. We don't get them up here. My little vineyard (I call it that but there are less than 20 vines!) is doing very well. I'm starting slowly so that I can watch and learn without ruining too many vines. I interplanted my grapes with hyssop as they attract bees and supposedly improve grape production and quality. We'll see next year. Fortunately I didn't prune my new vine roots and I dug a two foot hole for them. They are growing in an old flat horse paddock so the soil is perfect. I won't need to feed the vines for years, if ever. With so few vines I hand watered each vine once a week for the first couple of months. I also started new vines from my prunings. I started them in the greenhouse and was amazed at what healthy root systems they have. I'm going to sink them into a center raised bed in the greenhouse for winter and plant them out next spring. We'll see how they make it through the winter, though. I didn't allow any of my first year vines to set fruit but I guess I should let them their second year. What do you think?

Jerrold said...

The rose chafers definitely have been trouble. They probably set me back a year (or more) on every vine.

I would not let any fruit hang except a cluster here or there only to confirm vine identity. Unless you have terrific growth the first year, having much if any fruit the second year is usually pushing it.

I have seen irrigated vines in very dry hot climates that could have/had a small crop the second year. However, if you are at all susceptible to winter kill, you risk diverting too much energy to ripening fruit rather than hardening off to survive the winter. Keep us updated Linnea.

Linnea said...

Thanks, I'll take your advice and only allow a cluster or two.