After a seemingly never ending winter, spring is finally in the air. Hopefully, your vines are all pruned and ready to go for the season. This time of year, the vines are patiently waiting between two important stages: winter pruning and shoot thinning. But don’t let that keep you out of the vineyard! Here are a few things you can do to get ready for the upcoming season:
- Scout for damaged vines. As you move through the vineyard mark vines that need attention. This may include cordons with large gaps between spurs, vines hit by machinery while pruning or injury from low temperatures. And, be sure to note any other issues you notice in the vineyard.
Figure 1. Secure the cordon to the wire with plastic chain link ties (left) or rubber ties (right) pictured above. Other options (not pictured) include wire, plastic tube tie, clips, tie tape and twine.
- Tie up cordons. Loose cordons and/or trunks will cause trouble as the vines grow through the season. Walk through the vineyard and make note of any trunks and/or cordons that need to be tied to the wire. There are several forms of clips or ties that can be used to attach the cordon to the wire (Figure 1). Some people prefer the linking ties because they seem to hold up in adverse conditions and can be adjusted as the vine grows. With link ties, be certain to loosen them each year so they do not girdle the vine. Other people prefer rubber fasteners, which expand with the growth of the vine but may not hold up as long in adverse conditions. It is important to check previous ties or clips yearly to make sure they are not girdling the vine.
- Tighten wires. During the course of the winter, wires have a tendency to loosen up. Wires that are not taught can lead to vine trunks with crooks in them. Crooked vines are at higher risk for mechanical damage. Once your vines have become crooked it can be challenging to fix. Be sure to tighten your wires before the weight of the seasons growth weighs them down. Depend on your trellis system, the best way to tighten the wires is by snugging up both of the end post. This will most likely tighten the wire to the desired tension. If not, many people have the ability to tighten the wires with in the row.
- Review your pest management strategy. Prepare for pests before they are a problem. Categorize pests into categories: insects, diseases, weeds and wildlife. For each of the categories look at your records from the previous year to determine patterns and make a list of the top three per category. For each list, include ID features, time of emergence, what to do if found and how to control the pests. Remember, knowing when and where the pest is going to be a problem before the season is in full swing will help you have a more targeted pest management strategy.
As many of us know, the vineyard has a never-ending list of jobs and, sometimes it can be hard to remember every task until it is too late. To minimize the risks of performing tasks too late, create an annual checklist with routine tasks (pruning, scouting, thinning, trellis maintenance, etc.). A detailed checklist will help you and your staff stay organized, motivated and productive throughout the growing season.
Hope this helps a bunch!
Annie Butler is an undergraduate student in horticulture and Diana R. Cochran is an assistant professor of horticulture and extension fruit specialist