It is so good to be back. After travels to England, Germany and South Africa [which was amazing], it is great to be back on the farm during what is the most exciting time [other than harvest]
Winter has been fairly moderate to say the least with some days reaching mid 70’s sometimes even the low 80’s. I have to admit I was fairly nervous being so far away as I would have put all my money on bud break commencing a lot earlier than normal, which for us is around April 10th. But snow and cooler temperatures set in and we are back on track and right on schedule.
But what exactly is bud break?
Well it is the first step of the annual growth cycle of a vine. The start of the cycle is signaled by the bleeding of the vine. This occurs when osmotic forces push water from the root system through the cuts from the pruning. Vines can bleed up to 1.5 Gallons.
Tiny buds [which have remained dormant during winter] use the carbohydrate reserves stored in the wood and start producing shoots. Within the bud there are normally three primordial shoots. The shoots produce leaves and through the process of photosynthesis, produce energy to facilitate growth. With warm temperatures these shoots can grow almost one inch in a single day.
But these young shoots are extremely fragile and in this part of the world, very susceptible to frost damage which can occur up to Mid May. We have experienced our fair share of crop loss due to Frost, with our Viognier especially hard hit in recent years. We have taken every possible precaution for this eventuality. Our wind machines are ready to go, bales of straw are ready to be lit, and if there is anything we can do to prevent it, we will. Unfortunately [as was the case in 2007] with temperatures reaching 17 degrees, there is not much one is able to do.
Frost is only one potential hazard at this time of the year. Bud break also brings the threat of bud damage by the climbing cutworm. The name “cutworm” is applied to a large number of larvae of lepidopterous species. The moths are night flyers while the larvae are night feeders, with both stages hiding through the day. These cutworm feed on the young buds resulting in the loss of primary and sometimes secondary buds so early season control is important.
So far so good, no sings of cutworm damage; and with warmer temperatures being forecasted over the next 2 weeks we are in pretty good shape starting the 2011 growing season. AS I write this, the rain starts belting down and the thunder is deafening, nicely done Stephen
Next Post – A video talking about our new 2010 Verdejo, set to makes its tasting room debut on Saturday.