Monday, 1 June 2015

June 1/15
This season got off to a slow start but we have caught up a bit. The grapes are all tied and ready to go for the year with extra cane tied down just in case of a late frost, however, it is now June so a late frost should be out of the question, but after 2 very cold winters I’m not ready to call an end to frost just yet. Ontario just recently had a severe frost episode in late May, so it goes to show it can still happen, and after these 2 years who knows?
The other reason tying down more fruit than you need is it gives you the option to do some shoot positioning at an early stage, by removing buds that are too close and would be remover at a later date anyway.

The high temperature for today was 9C which is quite low for this time of year, hopefully it will warm up soon, but we will persevere none the less.

So far the difference between the 2 Chardonnay clones (95 & 548) seems negligible, the only difference seems to be in the aforementioned brittleness of the other 2 Chardonnay clones which I mentioned in the previous post. The brittleness seems to be caused strictly by environmental factors heavy winds from this past year, a category 2 hurricane as well as high winds throughout the winter. This is most likely a non-issue or a one time event as it hasn’t happened before, anyway, enough about that.

Here are a couple of pics of the vines that are now tied down and the 1st leaves beginning to unfold.     

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Vineyard observations May 2015

I was tying down the chardonnays tonight (in my own vineyard) and noticed that some of the canes seemed brittle, but only the chardonnay clone 548. The other Chardonnay clone 95 tied down very nicely and easily. Both clones are on 3309 and S04 rootstocks so the rootstock had nothing to do with it. My guess is that the canes were not fully prepared for the winter and didn’t harden off sufficiently before the cold weather started?

The other possibility is that the temperatures were just too cold for an extended period of time and it caused the damage to the canes? I’m not really sure what the direct cause of the injury was whether; winter came too quickly or it was too cold for too long (I’m leaning towards too cold for too long) I will have to see if I can find out.

This past winter we had a lot of snow, far more than we have been used to getting over the last 20 years.
We also had a cold stretch where the temperature reached between -17C to -19C for an extended period of time about 2 weeks perhaps a little more. At least the majority of the vines were buried in snow and protected from the cold stretch.   

There is also another element to add to this puzzle: At the end of May 2014 there was a cold snap that lasted 3 days and the temperature dipped to -3C. Over 80% of the primary buds were outright killed and the secondary buds took over. My question is do the secondary buds harden off just as efficiently as the primary buds do? Or is this grasping at straws and seeing little green men where there are none?
While working in the other vineyard today (my main job) I noticed that the chardonnays were brittle as well, they are Chardonnay clone 96. The canes were difficult to tie down and some of the canes even split before I could tie them to the wire, thankfully not very many split or broke and in the end all the canes were tied successfully to the wire and the Chardonnay in the lower vineyard are now ready for the season.  

The 2 vineyards are 1 Km apart.

I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that 1 clone (95)was more successful in these last 2 cold winters than the other 2 clones (548, 96) That is an important point to remember whatever the cause of the injury Chardonnay clone 95 fared better these past 2 winters than Chardonnay clone 548 and Chardonnay clone 96.   

I will post a few pics of the vineyard soon, showing the canes tied down and 1 extra cane left just in case we get more cold weather; this is Nova Scotia after all and we're growing vinifera.   

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Today is a snow day for Northeastern North America, most of the NE is shut down due to a blizzard. It looks like Boston, Mass. and all surrounding areas are getting the brunt of the storm. Here in the Western end of the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia we're getting what appears to be a typical snow storm with quite a bit of wind. It will most likely be in the neighbourhood of 20-25 cm when it is over, no where near what Boston will get.(60-90 cm)

Last year 2014 it was reported to be the warmest on record. It is funny but since I have been recording rainfall totals, 2014 was also the wettest since 2002 when I started the recordings. We received a total of 1128.5 mm of rain in 2014.

The winter of 2013-2014 was very cold and long it started in mid November 2013 and lasted until March 2014 we haven't had a winter like that for about 20 years. We didn't have particularly cold temperatures (-19 C was the coldest)but the duration of the cold spells was notable.

The real problem with 2014 came in May, we had an unusually cold spring that seemed to drag on forever, but during the last week of May ( May 29-30) we had a cold snap where the temperature dipped below -3C which did a tremendous amount of damage all over the province, primary buds on the grape vines were killed in droves, which left everyone with the lesser quality secondary and tertiary buds, so right out of the starting gate we were down significantly in crop if no one left themselves some wiggle room by tying down extra buds, thankfully most growers here in NS realize this and give themselves more buds to start with to make up for any unexpected frost damage. Once the weather turned for the better it was really a very good growing year the quality of the crop was exceptional and the fall temperatures were mild and stayed until late October, after harvest we had lots of time for the vines to prepare themselves for the coming winter, so the vines went into this winter 2014-2015 in good to very good shape. All in all it was a good year in spite of the rough start.

The Pinot noir 828 was entering its 3 year last year and was in good shape so I tied down a half a crop where it was possible. I say where it was possible because I have Pinot noir 828 on 2 different rootstocks (in the same row) Riparia Glorie and 3309. The vines on 3309 looked as one would expect they would look for vines that are entering their 3rd year, the trunk size was good(1"+) and the canes were a good diameter as well about 5/16" so they were allowed to retain a half crop. The vines on Rg rootstock were noticeably smaller, they looked like they were entering their 2nd year instead of their 3rd, this was because they were grafted onto a devigorating rootstock(Rg) because of the smaller caliper size I didn't allow any of these vines to bear fruit. They will have a full crop this year. (unless the trunk size is still too small) I would rather error on the side of caution when it comes to tying down a full crop to give the roots more time to develop a strong root system, that way the vines will be in better shape to withstand any environmental challenges that may/will come their way. (at least that is the hope, a healthy plant will more easily handle adverse conditions than a vine that is less healthy)

The Chardonnays were also in their 3rd year and the vines looked very good, caliper size was about 5/16" which is a little large but that will work itself out as the vines will from now on have a full crop tied down. All in all I am happy with the quality of fruit that they are producing (so is the winery) and hope to continue being able to maintain this quality from year to year, as consistency is the most important factor that wineries are looking for. 

I am looking forward to this year as it will be (for the most part) a full crop from here on in. I will be adding to the vineyard as soon as I remove some trees that are causing too much shade in the evening. This expansion will be a little over an acre in size when it happens.

I will add a few pictures that my brother-in-law Ed Dyer took this summer

Finally, for a New Years Resolution I am going to update this blog more than once a year...hopefully, maybe...we'll see.

Have a great year!


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

First Harvest

January 22, 2014

Pinot noir 828 faired quite well in its 2nd year.  The vines in both cases (rootstocks Rg and 3309) reached the top wire. This year they will have an half of a crop,as it will be their 3rd year. The Pinot noir clone 115 that did have a 50% crop this past year was of a very good quality despite the 221 mm or 8.85 inches of rain during bloom.

The canes of the Pinot noir are 5/16 diameter and have 4 inch internodes and are very healthy, the canes have hardened off very well and are reddish-brown all the way up to the end of the cane.

The Chardonnay's were in their 3rd year as well, they've hardened off nicely and had a half of a crop too.

The canes are a larger diameter than I'd like to see but, that isn't unusual as it was only their 3rd year.

On average the cane growth is even, the vines all look the same which is good(uniformity) ,some canes are 1/2 inch in diameter but that will work itself out next year when they are fully cropped.
There was a little bit of necrosis in the middle of the cane on some vines but not enough to be concerned about, at least at this point but I will keep an eye on that.

All in all it was a good crop in a very challenging year, it was a wet year with a dry spell in
August. Thankfully October was one of the nicest October's that we've ever had and the crop turned out to be very good. The internodes of the canes on the Chardonnay's are for the most part 4 inches which is ideal. Even the bull wood has internodes that are reasonably short, about 5 inches long this is notable due to the wet year as well as the fact that it is also the 3rd year. 

This year(2014) will be an important year, as it will be the first year that some of the rows will have a full crop and we will get to see what the effects of an exceptionally well drained site will have on the vines and just how large a crop they will be able to carry.
I am guessing at about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 tonnes per acre is what they will carry without being over cropped.

Irrigation is a definite possibility which is kind of funny when you consider we're in North Eastern North America. During the early 90's we had a period of 3 years where we had drought conditions, so we know that these conditions can and will appear again. The use of drip line irrigation would be the best choice, as overhead sprinklers would be more trouble than there worth because mildews are already a big problem here, overhead sprinklers may add to the mildews by keeping the leaves of the vines moist or wet. There is no need to encourage diseases like downy and powdery mildew, they can come along just fine without any assistance from us.


Monday, 20 January 2014

January 2014

It has been quite some time since I've updated this blog, so I will try to catch up on what has been going on.

2013 was a difficult year with 8.85 inches or 221.25 mm of rain during bloom and 39.025 inches or 975.625 mm over all which was the second highest rainfall since 2002 with 2011 being the highest at 40.03 inches or 1000.75 mm.

With that much rain during bloom diseases like Black rot, Downy Mildew, Botrytis would run rampant and they did with the exception of Botrytis which was a problem in some places, fortunately not here. I was able to get ahead of the diseases this year and a number of sprays later there was very little sign of disease in the vineyard. A few vines at the end of the season showed downy mildew even after 10 sprays. 

Overall though, the crop was good, it was small(50% crop as it was only year 3) the quality of the Chardonnay was good and the quality of the Pinot noir was excellent, no disease and fully matured(at least by Nova Scotia standards)

I changed my mind about using the vertically divided system Scott Henry when I was visiting a friend Michael Lightfoot in Wolfville NS, Mike showed me a new trellising system he was using on his New York Muscat ( which is a low cropper and a vigorous grower) it is a type of "Kniffen " I don't know what it is called (I didn't ask) it isn't a 4 arm Kniffen it is more like a "Modified Kniffen". 

It was doing exactly what he wanted an increase in the crop with a decrease in the amount of vegetative growth, the internodes were 4 inches in length which is very good, and for NY Muscat that is an accomplishment (kudos to Mike for thinking outside the box)

The second thing I noticed was that both sets of cordons were vertically trained, this is a tremendous advantage as "Scott Henry" has 1 set of cordons trained vertically and 1 set of cordons trained downwards. Training a cordon downwards is devigorating so to get the same quality as the vertically trained cordon you should retain fewer buds. The fact that there are 4 vertically trained cordons means you can carry more buds/nodes and have a slightly larger crop per acre than you can with a Scott Henry. (if you so choose to do so) 

Because you can carry a larger crop it also gives you the leeway to reduce the crop by cluster thinning to increase fruit quality and still make it affordable to do so from the vineyard point of view. You can remove the cluster's shoulders/wings to increase quality as well, though this may prove to be too labour intensive.

Anyway, when I saw what Mike was doing I recognized it as a superior trellising system ( in my opinion) to Scott Henry.

I tried to tie down Chardonnay canes downward when the canes were about 10-12 inches or 250-300 mm long but the all broke off and seemed to resist being tied downward, that was when I decided to change trellising systems.
Modified Kniffen Trellising system

Chardonnay95 on S04 foreground,3309 background

The first fruiting wire on the Modified Kniffen is at 24 inches and the 2nd one is at 72 inches, which gives 48 inches per canopy. Each of these rows will have a 50% for this year (they had no crop last year) the reason for this is because it is a divided system and it will take an extra year to develop a root system large enough to support the extra canopy. (at least I hope it will only take 1 extra year)

Chardonnay 95 on S04 (VSP) year 3

Chardonnay 548 on S04 year 3
Pinot noir 828 on Riparia Glorie year 2

Pinot noir 115 on S04 year 3
There are 2 different clones of Pinot noir on 3 different root stocks. Clones 115 and 828 on root stocks Riparia Glorie, 3309 and S04. 

The purpose of these tests are to find the best possible combination before I plant the rest of the vineyard, before I plant the rest of the vineyard I must first cut down the trees on the west side of the field (see photo) The other fields also have a high organic matter content, with similar soil structure so this test will be informative (I hope) 


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mid November

After a dry summer it was an especially wet fall so far. September and October saw a lot of rain over 10 inches or 250mm. The vines did very well this year all made it to the top wire, next year the vines will produce a half (50%) of a crop, that way the "extra energy" will go into root production. The plants have hardened off nicely as you can see in the following pics by looking at the brown/red coloured canes which indicates a cane that is prepared for the coming winter.

Pinot Noir clone 828 prepared for the winter

Chardonnay 548 ready for winter

Soil will be added to cover the graft union for the winter

New section added onto the vineyard

The only thing left to do now is to add topsoil to cover the graft union for the winter as an added layer of protection in case we get a  severe winter. This is done especially in the first few years to protect the graft while the graft union both heals and matures, eventually a grape hoe ( a mechanical hoe) will be used to cover the graft up with soil for the winter, although the primary use of a hoe is to control weeds it can be used to hill up the plants with top soil too.

The new site which is north of the vineyard is a small addition triangular in shape, for the purpose of using up as much of the field as possible. The addition will extend 6 rows  4 rows of chardonnay 548 and 2 rows Pinot noir 828. The stake in the above picture is the location of the endpost.  

That's all for now I'll add something a little later after I mound up the vines with soil, I will also include a rainfall total from my 2 rain gauges.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

It is late August the vines are doing very well in their second year and are now 6 feet tall. It has been very dry this summer with a total rainfall of 331.5mm or 13.26 inches. as of August 19/12. Grapes actually appreciate this quite a bit(so do blueberries) it should be a very good harvest this year, perhaps better than 2010, we'll have to see, 2010 was a great year too.
I have a number of photos to upload (7)that I've taken in the last 2-3 days  
Pinot Noir clone # 115 on the rootstock SO4 about 6-7 feet tall.
All fruit has been removed to put all the energy into root growth. 

Chardonnay clone # 95 on the left
 Chardonnay clone # 548 on the right
 both rows have the same rootstocks SO4 and 3309.  

More Chardonnay, clone # 95 is on the left
and 548 is on the right.
Rootstock too are the same, 3309 at this end, and SO4 at the far end. 

 The next 2 photos are of the little jig I built for laying out the trellis wire. Quite simple, and it's attached to the pallet on the tractor using screws.

The next photo is a close up of the clips I'm using to attach the vineyard wire to the wooden posts. These clips work very nicely and when you use screws you can adjust them at your pleasure.
The last photo is of the trellis system called Scott Henry it is a vertically divided system an upper canopy and a lower canopy. I changed my mind after I installed the posts I was planning on using a horizontally divided system called Lyre but eventually decided on Scott Henry as it doesn't take up quite as much space. That is why you see post extensions instead of a single12 foot tall post. 
The height of the top wire is about 8 feet tall.
 While I'm at it I will add one more photo here is a pic of the back of the house
That's all for now I will update again sooner or maybe later??