In a number of my past blogs I have alluded to the maintenance items that are needed during the growth and early grape maturation phases of my home vineyard. These are things like shoot tying, hedging, leaf pulls, weed control, and spraying. I thought I'd make the focus of this blog to be a bit more of a discussion on the process and needs for each of these very important maintenance items. Remember, the end game is clean, healthy fruit that you can make quality wine from.
A look at my vines before and after performing summer maintenance.
This process will be completely dependent on the type of vine pruning and training you employ. In my vineyard, you might recall, I use a modified form of mid wire cane pruning. In my method, I also do a modified version of vertical shoot positioning (VSP). VSP is a method of trying to provide each shoot with a defined space and exposure to air and light that will enhance fruit maturation and minimize disease. VSP is typically employed with a bottom wire cordon pruned system to minimize the need for hedging — to be described later. Since I trained my vines on a mid wire; which I did to fit in with my deer exclusion box approach (see Pest Management Blog), I need to do a bit of extra work with some of my more vigorous varieties.
I have a Tapener tying machine that makes quick work of this process. The unit makes use of a plastic tape, that can stretch with the growth of the vine, that wraps around what you want to tie. It then deploys a small staple to close the loop that you've formed and finishes up by cutting off the tape and prepares the unit for the next tie. This is all accomplished in seconds. I highly recommend this product if you have a number of vines to deal with....