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require annual treatment for several years.


Use of foliar nutrient confers immediate benefit to the vines via leaf uptake. Results will be visible by enhanced leaf colour and extended internodes within days after the spray. In a young vineyard, weed competition is especially important and can delay mature vine development by a year or more. Keep it clean under the canopy. A new method that bears promise was pointed out to me by a grain farmer from Alberta—the use of a deep-rooted annual, tillage radish, to break up compaction. When I checked it out, I found that daikon radishes have also been used in the past for the same purpose. Another old soil remedy for compacted soils is to plant potatoes, but I’m not sure how well that would work in a vineyard. A more usual vineyard problem is excess vigour. Grafted vines with rootstocks that have Riparia parentage such as Riparia gloire, 101-14 or 3309C are known for lowering vigour and accelerating ripening, especially in cool coastal areas. Excess vigour can lead to a wide range of problems such as late ripening, excess acidity, and increased susceptibility to botrytis, mildew, or sour rot. Since the amount of foliage is directly related to the size of a vine’s roots and its water and nutrient gathering ability, the obvious solution might be to grow a bigger vine to bring the root and foliage into balance. If a vineyard was planted to high density, say at one-metre spacing, and the vineyard has to be hedged and topped multiple times per year, removal of every other vine might be an option. This will allow the vines to be spread out within the trellis to receive light penetration to the fruiting zone and renewal zone, and get enough air movement to suppress fungal infections. This strategy alone could increase fruit quality without diminishing yield. The bonus is that the operating cost of the vineyard can be lowered by hundreds of dollars per acre if hedging and topping can be eliminated.


If lower vine density isn’t an option, examine the style of trellis. An elevated fruiting zone, such as a Sylvoz or Hudson River Umbrella, can carry a heavier crop than a VSP and ripen earlier without hedging. Some grape varieties are better suited to this style than others. Varieties with a strongly vertical growth habit may require a


British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2014 29


movable wire to sweep canes downward.


If the canes are swept downward too early in the season, they may push enough laterals to require hedging. On the other hand, fruit and the renewal zone are well exposed, ripen earlier and are less subject to mildew. Other options to bring unruly vines under control would be to use some form of vertically divided trellis such as a Scott Henry or a mid-height Sylvoz in which some canes are trained upward and some trained downward.


If the row width is great enough, a heavier crop can be borne with a Tee bar, an open lyre, or a Geneva double curtain, yet quality can be maintained. The bottom line is that grape growing must employ a vineyard management strategy consistent with the natural growth habit of the vine.


The objective is to grow grapes, not wood that is to be discarded. Examine your vineyard and do whatever it takes.


— Gary Strachan is listed on Linked In.


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