We have come to the time of year where the vineyard needs canopy management to encourage upwards growth and protect the canes from being broken or damaged when we are mowing and spraying. As we all know, it hasn’t been a great summer this year so our vines are therefore a little behind on last year but there is still plenty to do.
We opted for steel posts when we planted the vines in 2010 which means we can move the wires up and down as needed (timber posts mean you can only move the wires to points where the hooks are placed). This gives us flexibility and we can move the wires to different points depending on the vine size. As we move the wires, the foliage will be trapped between them therefore ‘trained’ and encouraged to grow upwards exposing the fruit where we can to ensure there is good air circulation and surface area for spraying. If the canes are too tightly packed then this can encourage mildew and fruit rot. Not what we want at all!
Different varieties grow at different rates so we had to prioritise which sections needed the attention first. Looking at the vineyard, we knew exactly where we needed to start so we turned our attention to our phoenix vines.
When we started the process of gently manoeuvring the canes around each other and up to the second wires, we really noticed how young and fragile they were. We soon learnt that with the slightest heavy handed movement you would hear a green, fleshy ‘pop’ and the cane would snap. We soon got the hang of it and found techniques which worked for each of us. Natalie had the ‘ease and tease’ technique which involved chatting to the vine whilst gently encouraging it up and under the wire. I called mine the ‘limbo manoeuvre’ – I would bend the cane at the strongest point, hold it firmly then follow ever so gently with the rest of the section. Most of the time these worked for us but we would still hear the odd ‘pop’ and grumble as we worked our way down the rows.
The vineyard is somewhat exposed to the elements and in particular the wind. We have planted trees which will eventually grow to become excellent wind breaks but they are taking their time. We have come back into the vineyard to find a few canes blown out of position but we cannot afford to keep going back otherwise we would never finish the first row! Instead, we will start the whole process again for the second round of tucking in as the canes which were too short or fragile have grown and hardened.
Natalie is still working hard in the vineyard so please do make an appointment to see her and she will show you the exciting progress!