Quantcast

last minute damage control

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Messages
19
Reaction score
0
This year I have inherited a 4 acre vineyard of tightly spaced pinot noir, or perhaps I should say I have inherited 100% of the maintenance of it after years of it being split amongst 3 people. A lot of things came up that distracted me from vineyard work this year. While most vineyards with 8-10 ft wide rows use tractors to just cut off every protruding cane, I, with 5 ft wide rows, tuck each cane of my 1 ft tall vines into the trellises by hand. Now verasion has just begun and only about 40% of the vineyard has been tucked into neet vertical rows. A lot of my vineyard has some sort of nutrient deficiency and vines hardly got more than a couple of feet tall with only 4-5 small canes at best. What I am wondering about is whether or not I should do a quicker and sloppier job of managing overgrown parts by using a machete to clear the rows. Essentially that method isn't any different than vineyards managed by tractor to just cut all protruding canes back. However, a lot of these vines weren't vigorous enough to have any substantial canopy that grew into the trellises in the first place so I would be cutting a lot of the already meager vegetation of struggling vines. This would mean sacrificing fruiting canes for next year also.

So my questions are;

Would cutting away a too substantial amount of the vegetation shock and damage the vines and/or the fruit?

At this point of the year doesn't the vine shift it's resources to the fruit almost exclusively? So does it matter either in the short or long term?

Obviously, I would be giving the vines a growing/recuperating year next year given that there would be no substantial fruiting canes left. Im on the fence because if I try to manage things ideally and take my time tucking as I always have, not much will get done. I still have winery cleaning, harvest prep, racking and bottling of my '16 pinot to do before I even have room for harvest. It seems the sooner I decide to take this extreme measure the more will get done, less ideally, but at least done whatsoever.

....so..what do yall think?
 

CK55

Banned
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
710
Reaction score
154
I would feed them, send in a sample and find out what they are lacking and give it to them.
 

Johny99

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2010
Messages
969
Reaction score
639
I agree with @CK55 on the deficiency. I also tuck by hand, not 4 acres though. If I don’t get them all tucked, I don’t cut them back. My question is if they are sprawling, so? Are you afraid they won’t ripen? While not pretty and out of vogue these days, California sprawl is a viable training method.

That said, I know a local grower that uses a string trimmer to hedge the rows near his wedding venue. Doesn’t seem to lead to harm. I don’t know that a machete is any more brutal.

I do believe if you cut back too far, you can hinder or damage the vine. The leaves are the little chemical engines feeding the fruit and all of the vine. The roots have to store up fuel for the winter, it has to come from green growth.
 

Karl

Junior
Joined
Jul 9, 2018
Messages
24
Reaction score
8
Where are these vines growing? The soil must be very poor for such low vigor i am guessing. In Burgundy they allow around 6 viable canes and prune off the shoots growing lateral instead of horizontal, but in your case, with such low vigor, at this time of year.....is it worth it? I would just tuck the vines so that the fruit gets exposure and leave the rest alone, cutting off the growth on struggling vines would be worse.

I have around 14 assorted vinifera vines in my yard (mostly clay & limestone) and with our massive rain this year they are growing like weeds....i have the opposite problem.
 

balatonwine

The Verecund Vigneron
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
972
Reaction score
666
Location
Badacsony wine region. Hungary
While most vineyards with 8-10 ft wide rows use tractors to just cut off every protruding cane, I, with 5 ft wide rows, tuck each cane of my 1 ft tall vines into the trellises by hand. Now verasion has just begun and only about 40% of the vineyard has been tucked into neet vertical rows.
First thing to consider: Only humans care about neat little vine rows. The vines don't.

Second thing to consider: A vigneron only creates neat vine rows simply to help make better wine. That is, there is a process to give the leaves the most sun, and the fruit the correct number of leaves to help ripen them ideally. Too much vegetative growth can hinder this process. Too little vegetative growth hurts the vine.

Side note: my tractor is only 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide --- smaller vineyard tractors are often narrower to fit in narrow rows.

A lot of my vineyard has some sort of nutrient deficiency and vines hardly got more than a couple of feet tall with only 4-5 small canes at best.
Photos here would be good. You may have other problems. For example, Eutypa will stunt vines.

What I am wondering about is whether or not I should do a quicker and sloppier job of managing overgrown parts by using a machete to clear the rows. Essentially that method isn't any different than vineyards managed by tractor to just cut all protruding canes back. However, a lot of these vines weren't vigorous enough to have any substantial canopy that grew into the trellises in the first place so I would be cutting a lot of the already meager vegetation of struggling vines. This would mean sacrificing fruiting canes for next year also.
A rule of thumb is the vines need at least 4 feet (3.5 m) of cane growth to supply enough storage food to the roots for next year's growth. Any canes less than that you should not cut. Tuck them. If they get longer, then you can do "green pruning" above this length. Normally, this means what grows above the trellis. I use a good pair of hedge shears myself -- better control than machete.

Would cutting away a too substantial amount of the vegetation shock and damage the vines and/or the fruit?
Maybe. See above.

At this point of the year doesn't the vine shift it's resources to the fruit almost exclusively? So does it matter either in the short or long term?
Green pruning is okay, as long as it is done properly. By August, if the vines were properly managed, no further green pruning is normally required.

given that there would be no substantial fruiting canes left
Then the green pruning was not done properly. And you probably have left insufficient leaves to allow the vine to create its food stores for next year.
 
Last edited:
Top