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March 9, 2015 | Vineyard | OS VINE

Early Bud-break in the Vineyard?

Prepruning the Vineyard - Pellenc Pruning the vineyard is going well. John and the children are averaging a tad more than a half an acre per day. With my broken arm, I am not able to help but I do sit with them, prepare lunch and take an afternoon snack out to them! The Montepulciano is completely pruned and they are pruning the last few rows of the Aglianico. Almost half the vineyard is pruned! From the top of the filter house, you can actually see where the pruned rows start! Pruned and Unpruned Rows of Vineyard We are beginning to see signs of an early bud-break in the vineyard. The warm weather we have had is much nicer to prune in than cold windy weather! But, with the warm weather, the ground warms up which warms the vines' roots up. Once the roots warm up, the grapevine is signaled to begin waking up and the sap begins to flow. That means that bud-break is not too far away. On the one hand, this is good - it shows the vine is alive! But, it can also be dangerous if it happens to early and early-mid March is too early! How do we know if the sap is beginning to run? When a vine is pruned, a clear watery liquid drips from the cuts. The sap is dripping! Really, it is only too early for bud-break if we have a freeze. You can understand our anxiety since for the last two years we have had late freezes - end of April and even the beginning of May! What can we do? Besides praying, we can pre-prune the vineyard. Normally, John pre-prunes enough rows for each person pruning to have a row to work on. This week, however, he pre-pruned the rest of the vineyard. Pre-pruning works to slow bud break for about a week. It shocks the vines by decreasing the hydrostatic pressure so that they are unable to push the buds open. So, the sap flow slows until the cuts from pre-pruning heal. When healed, if necessary, we can pre-prune again. Our preferred height to pre-prune is leaving about 6 - 8 inches of spur growth from the cordon wire. This week, John pre-pruned high, leaving about 12 inches of growth. This will hopefully shock the vines and slow the sap. It also gives us the flexibility to pre-prune again even lower if we need to buy more time. You can see the spur growth left at the longer length in the photo below. Grapevines Prepruned High One aspect of starting the vineyard that appealed to both John and myself was the fact that we would be totally dependent upon God. We were dependent upon Him when John had a "real" job, but somehow, for us anyway, farming makes us more aware of that dependence. Back then, it seemed too easy to put trust in the bimonthly paycheck! We can work and work and do it all to the the best of our ability. But, when all is said and done, it is the Lord who controls the weather - freezes, hail, rain, sunshine needed to ripen the grapes and even the growth and productivity of the vines. While I admit that I still worry, it is comforting to know who has it all under control. How about you - do you worry? What are your worries?    


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