We have a new toy in the vineyard! It is the Pellenc AP25. What, you might ask is that? It is a battery powered tying machine used to anchor grape vines to either a bamboo stake (for new vines) or wire for older vines. This little baby was not cheap but it is already proving its worth!
Soon, we will be going through the vineyard with a pre-pruner. The pre-pruner will cut off and shred last years growth from the vines. The amount cut off is adjustable and we will leave 2 buds per spur. Our vines are trained up to 4 ft and then 2 arms are tied down horizontally in opposite directions on a wire forming a cordon.
Each arm is allowed to grow 2 ft along the wire. From these arms, upward growing spurs have the buds for the new growth.
Each bud should produce two bunches of grapes. Optimally, we want 20 buds per plant - 10 evenly spaced over each 2 ft arm. These will yield 5 to 15 lbs. of grapes per vine. You can see the fuzzy white bulges in the picture below.
With the pre-pruner we will cut the vines back so that each spur has 2 buds. We will then come through and hand prune, cleaning up each vine to achieve the 20 buds per plant.
Before pre-pruning, it is important to replace any dead or weak arms. This is done by pulling down a healthy looking arm from last years growth to replace the compromised one. The Pellenc AP25 is used to tie down the arm to the cordon wire.
You can see from the picture below, the bulk of the Pellenc AP25 is worn at the back of the waist. (The jeans are designer, by yours truly - call for pricing!) This back part holds the battery pack and the roll of ties. For tying down mature arms, we are using a standard tie designed to last 12 - 14 mths. They look much like bread bag ties. When training our new planting, we will be using paper ties designed to degrade in 8 - 10 mths so that they do not girdle the fast growing young plants.
The handheld part of the Pellenc AP25 looks like a space age gun. You can hopefully see the line of brown ties coming from the back pack and feeding into the rear of the gun.
The open tip of the gun is positioned over the vine and cordon wire (in this case) and the trigger is pulled.
The Pellenc AP25 does the rest. The tie is extruded, twisted and voile!
Until now, we have all had our own hand tapers and done our own pruning (or training, as the case may be) and taping as we go. The old tapers, pictured below, just didn't last even the season - we went through 19 of them!
To date, we are finding the Pellenc AP25 to be very fast and feel that while 6 or 7 of us are pruning, 1 person using the Pellenc AP25 will be able to keep up with the rest. Pellenc proports one person can do 12,000 ties per day. We will see!
For more vineyard posts, be sure to check out the links below!