Planting 9 acre vineyard

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rfroese

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Hello everyone! I am new here. Just got on this forum today.

I have a 10.5 acre piece of land that I am building a house on right now. I have read and researched for about 3 years on how to install a small vineyard and finally purchased a piece land last month to begin my wife and I's dream of owning a small vineyard and living on it.

I will probably end up asking many questions on here but the first things I am curious about...

Our land is undeveloped and has been vacant for years. We live in farm country in West Texas a ways south of the Lubbock area. The land we have has CRP and small mesquites growing on it that are about 2-3 ft tall. I have been trying to decide the best way to clear the land so that I can begin installing about 3 acres of the vineyard next spring. I am hoping to do 3, 3 acre sections over a time frame of 3 years.

My father is an old farmer who told me I ought to just spray roundup on the mesquites and then shred them and be done with clearing the land. I have gone back and forth on renting a skid steer with a grapple, buying a grapple for my dad's 5065e tractor with the front loader or spraying and shredding. The reason I kind of want to just spray them and then shred the mesquites is that it will take me about half a day to spray and half a day to shred the property with my dad's tractor.

Is that a bad idea? Will it hurt the vines I plan to plant next year?
 

VinesnBines

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You will be fine to spray Roundup this year to clean out the mesquites. I try to avoid spraying weed killer in the planting area in the early spring. I don't want digging or tilling to allow the weed killer residue to get in the hole near the new vine roots.

What are your plans? Three acres is a lot of grape vines let alone nine acres. As people ask me with just two acres, are you going to sell grapes? Open a winery? Will you be hiring help? I think the rule of thumb is, five acres are as much as one person can handle without working at it full time. Nine acres may be a full time job for one person with help at various times of the year (harvest esp). You seem to have access to a good size tractor; will you get to use it all the time?

We have many other questions like what varieties are you planning to grow? row spacing? trellis system? spray program?

Good luck! Planting a vineyard is a lot of hard work but immensely enjoyable. If you are from a farming family, you know that you won't be sitting around, sipping wine and watching the vines produce grapes; you will start at daybreak and go all day and then drag in after dark longing for a shower and bed. I would do a lot things differently but I still enjoy (almost) every minute.
 

ibglowin

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I would not spray or use Roundup on any future vineyard, How many mesquite trees are we talking about? Thats pretty good BBQ wood going to waste. Maybe post a few pics of the proposed site. I have driven through the area on more than one occasion as I travel back and forth from northern NM to San Antonio. IMHO renting the skid steer with grapple and then making a burn pile at some point would be better than any use of Roundup. Also since you are in or very close to cotton country beware of neighbors using Dicamba and 24D. Cotton is king in the area and the State doesn't seem to care much about vineyard damage from overspray or wind drift.

 

rfroese

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You will be fine to spray Roundup this year to clean out the mesquites. I try to avoid spraying weed killer in the planting area in the early spring. I don't want digging or tilling to allow the weed killer residue to get in the hole near the new vine roots.

What are your plans? Three acres is a lot of grape vines let alone nine acres. As people ask me with just two acres, are you going to sell grapes? Open a winery? Will you be hiring help? I think the rule of thumb is, five acres are as much as one person can handle without working at it full time. Nine acres may be a full time job for one person with help at various times of the year (harvest esp). You seem to have access to a good size tractor; will you get to use it all the time?

We have many other questions like what varieties are you planning to grow? row spacing? trellis system? spray program?

Good luck! Planting a vineyard is a lot of hard work but immensely enjoyable. If you are from a farming family, you know that you won't be sitting around, sipping wine and watching the vines produce grapes; you will start at daybreak and go all day and then drag in after dark longing for a shower and bed. I would do a lot things differently but I still enjoy (almost) every minute.
Awesome. That is good to know!

I am planning to follow what a friend of mine has done with a very large vineyard about 40 miles due east. They have 290 acres of wine grapes planted with what they called "high wire." Their first block of 350 acres total with around 60 acres being VSP and 290 acres being high wire is complete. They are actually in the process of beginning their 2nd block and are looking for investors to start a 3rd. Almost all of their work is done with a machine made by Pellenc. Their vineyard manager hires 2 full time employees per block and then will hire a big crew occasionally if they need to do something by hand instead of machine. They harvest their grapes with a machine as well.

I plan to hire a crew to help with vine training, pre-pruning and whatever else I need in the first few years as well. Eventually, the plan is to be fully mechanized and get someone to custom harvest the grapes when it is time. There are large groups of mennonites around here that are always up for jobs like that.

I also plan to buy this PELLENC MULTIVITI to attach to a tractor eventually. In the beginning I am planning to do some makeshift mechanization for pruning using a hedge trimmer and a tractor. I have access to the tractor pretty much year round. It isn't used for anything except occasional yard work at my dad's house. I plan to eventually buy a tractor of my own as well. I plan to have the vineyard to sell wine grapes as a business. I was planning to plant tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, and maybe some merlot as well. That is what I have been told grows best out here. Or at least that is what we have talked about so far. I am open to other ideas as well.
 

rfroese

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I would not spray or use Roundup on any future vineyard, How many mesquite trees are we talking about? Thats pretty good BBQ wood going to waste. Maybe post a few pics of the proposed site. I have driven through the area on more than one occasion as I travel back and forth from northern NM to San Antonio. IMHO renting the skid steer with grapple and then making a burn pile at some point would be better than any use of Roundup. Also since you are in or very close to cotton country beware of neighbors using Dicamba and 24D. Cotton is king in the area and the State doesn't seem to care much about vineyard damage from overspray or wind drift.


For what reason would you not spray roundup? Will it potentially harm the vines?

There's a bunch. But they are all tiny. No more than 2-3 ft tall. They are basically bushes. Not big enough to make BBQ wood. I will take a picture this weekend when I head out there.

There are a ton of cotton farms around here. My father does custom harvesting for cotton and farmed cotton almost my entire life. Luckily, the plot I bought is in a residential subdivision and not near any fields. There are quite a few restrictions in the subdivision but vineyards are allowed. There are several small vineyards near me.
 

rfroese

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I just read that article. That actually does concern me a bit...

Having said that, there are quite a few vineyards around this area starting to pop up and yields are pretty awesome. My buddy's vineyard just had their first crop on 4th year vines produce 6-7 tons per acre.
 
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VinesnBines

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Glyphosate is widely used in vineyards as an under-vine herbicide. I agree that I would be cautious in using in the exact area to be planted but since you aren't planting until next spring, I still think a careful, judicious use won't be detrimental. It can stay in the soil for up to six months. I have heard of new vineyards spraying herbicide just before planting and rain washing the herbicide into the planting holes. Also, pictures will help with advice. (i.e. growth in the fence rows will be fine to spray with Roundup; an entire field of brush - probably no)
 

Rocktop

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In my experience, a small rubber tracked excavator with a thumb and front blade is king for land clearing, you can grab individual trees, shrubs or scrubs and when lifting vertical can yank the whole root system. You have the agility to stack the piles neatly for burning or load for removal.
When done pulling, use the front blade to grade the whole site. You should be able to rent one no problem and once you get good on the controls you can clear a lot of land quite quickly.

RT
 

ibglowin

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Personal choice. I stopped using Roundup over 10 years ago and have not missed it at all. YMMV.





For what reason would you not spray roundup? Will it potentially harm the vines?

There's a bunch. But they are all tiny. No more than 2-3 ft tall. They are basically bushes. Not big enough to make BBQ wood. I will take a picture this weekend when I head out there.

There are a ton of cotton farms around here. My father does custom harvesting for cotton and farmed cotton almost my entire life. Luckily, the plot I bought is in a residential subdivision and not near any fields. There are quite a few restrictions in the subdivision but vineyards are allowed. There are several small vineyards near me.
 

VinesnBines

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I try not to use Roundup in the vineyard but I ran out of glufosinate this Spring. The Roundup did not harm the vines but didn't do a good job of burn out. I paid a small fortune and ordered my glufosinate.
 

rfroese

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In my experience, a small rubber tracked excavator with a thumb and front blade is king for land clearing, you can grab individual trees, shrubs or scrubs and when lifting vertical can yank the whole root system. You have the agility to stack the piles neatly for burning or load for removal.
When done pulling, use the front blade to grade the whole site. You should be able to rent one no problem and once you get good on the controls you can clear a lot of land quite quickly.

RT
After some more thought, I do believe this is where I am going to land. I am going to rent a CAT 308 for a day soon at around $550 a day delivered and picked up. I am going to just go to work and spend an entire day trying to clear land and if it is viable I will continue to rent until it is done.
 

ratflinger

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Other thoughts - if you plant 9 acres will there be enough room for your buildings that support the winery? I am also familiar with that area of Texas, where are you planning to get the water? You'll need to go deep in the Ogallala to keep from running out, over time. So I am assuming that you made sure you own the water rights also, Boone Pickens bought up a lot several years back for one of his hare-brained schemes. Good luck, hope it all works out.
 

rfroese

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Other thoughts - if you plant 9 acres will there be enough room for your buildings that support the winery? I am also familiar with that area of Texas, where are you planning to get the water? You'll need to go deep in the Ogallala to keep from running out, over time. So I am assuming that you made sure you own the water rights also, Boone Pickens bought up a lot several years back for one of his hare-brained schemes. Good luck, hope it all works out.
I don't plan to begin a winery. I am going to sell the grapes to some local wineries. Texas has a huge shortage of wine grapes. Over 50% of all wine grapes are imported from other states. The market for wine grapes in this area is really good.

Most of our water wells in this area are around 180 ft deep or so. No water rights issues here.
 

Hazelemere

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Roundup will trash bacteria in the top soil and make it harder for plants to use micronutrients bonded to humous in top soil. I never use herbicides on anything.
 

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