Hi dear grape growing friends!

 

It’s been a while since I updated my blog, but with our grape harvest coming to an end next week, I will have more time to spend with you; and for those who though I abandoned My Grape Vine – “NO, NEVER!

Besides the fact that it has been a year of excellent quality grapes, it’s been quite a difficult harvest time as well.  With grapes weighing much less than the previous year, the total number of cartons we packed is about 9% less than 2008 (some of my friends reported a 19% reduction in cartons).

The biggest problem this year was the sugar/acid ratio in the grapes.  The grapes struggled to reach the correct sugar content for export, some colouring problems and a few diseases that was hard to manage.  All of this made it an interesting but challenging harvest, so say the least!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will take our past growing season in retrospect and share with you some of the things I’ve learned (yes, one never stop learning in this business!).  I hope this will show you what to look out for, what to do and how to prevent it.

 

Managing weeds, ground covers and grass in a vineyard.

 

With the high rainfall in November and Desember, the weeds in our vineyards was a huge headache!  If you ever planted a young grape vine, I am sure you will agree that the biggest enemy of a young grape vine is grass and weeds.  Weed infested vineyards don’t as well as weed-free vineyards.  You need to minimize competition for water and nutrients from weeds and grass growing adjacent to your young grape vines.

When planting your grape vine in your backyard, or into an established lawn, it is recommended that you remove a square patch of sod to keep the weeds away from the roots of the vines.  This will ensure that your young vines don’t need to compete with the grass or weeds and keep the square weed free at all times.

 

Mulches or ground covers:

 

Mulches or ground covers have several advantages. In addition to suppressing weed growth, they also reduce moisture loss, helping to keep the soil evenly moist.

Decomposing mulch will improve the soil structure and put some much-needed nutrients into the soil, making it very good agricultural practice.

 

But using mulches also has disadvantages!

 

For me, the biggest disadvantage of using mulch is the cost and the fact that it pose a fire hazard during the hot, dry summers.  Depending on what type of mulch you use or where you get the mulch, it can also carry unwanted weed seeds, which will germinate and grow in the mulch itself.

In wet years or on poorly drained soils, mulches can hold excessive moisture,

forcing growth that fails to harden off in the fall and resulting in winter

injury or collar rot.

Apply a layer of mulch, at least 4 inches thick to cover all sides of the vine.  If you have a row of vines, cover the whole ridge where most of the roots are to ensure proper moisture and weed management.

When laying out the mulch, keep it away from the stem of the vine because the decomposing material can harm the stem of the vine (especially when you plant new vines); this is called collar rot as mentioned above.

Whether you will be using mulch or not, it is important to keep your vineyard weed-free, especially newly planted grape vines.

 

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