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Vineyard Health

Maintaining the Health of a Vineyard takes a lot of time particularly when you are using Organic Methods. Below are some of the aspects of grapes that require attention 

Late Spring Freeze Damage. Grapes are hardy thru winter. But in 2019, Easter morning April 21, there was an unforecasted snap freeze that lasted only a few hours and killed most of the new buds that had just broken open a week earlier causing the loss of 2/3 of my crop. 

New left Blight. 

After returning home from Memorial week 2017, I found all the new leaves & buds had turned yellow & started dying. The Extension Service guessed that it was Spider Mites and I read later they can occur in Organic Vineyards that spray sulfur for Powdery Mildew killing their predator, ladybugs. I had done my first dormant spray in the winter earlier. 

Fighting the Jungle. Everything grows rapidly and its a constant battle to keep weeds under control. I can mow the whole vineyard between the rows in 1/2 a day.  But controlling the weeds under the plants is much more problematic as you can't safely use a weed eater.  You can always tell an organic vineyard because Roundup is not used for control and there are  weeds under the plants

Deer love the eat the new fresh new shoots which can cause the loss of fruit for each cane that develops. The deer fence I have keeps them out for the most part because they are lazy, but leave a gate open and they will be right in. Also, I didn't think they cared for the fruit, but saw one munching thru the bird net last year

Powdery Mildew is everywhere and with Organic methods, it is controlled before summer solstice with Sulfur and after with Neem Oil. I have been lucky so far that PM does not seem to impact me as severely as it does other vineyards nearby. 

Birds & Bees(yellow Jackets). Birds cause the worse losses at Harvest time.  They have no interest in the grapes until they are ripe and actually don't eat the fruit, but the seed instead. Previous years I've tented the whole vineyard with Bird Net, but this has not been effective as once the birds are in, they have access to all the grapes. This next year I will drape each row with its own netting. Yellow jackets are also present when the grapes are ripening, but have not caused the losses that birds do.

Smoke Damage from recent Forest Fires impact Grape Harvest in two ways.  The Smoke creates a haze which dims the sunlight reaching the plants at the critical time of year for producing Sugar. And more importantly, the smoke enters the grape fruit thru the skin and bonds with the Sugar.  This cannot be tasted until alcohol frees it during fermentation creating a distasteful wine. So far I have not been as greatly impacted by smoke damage as other nearby vineyards.

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