thinning and make your decisions after fruit set. If your shoots are still short at fruit set, then you should thin aggressively, probably to one cluster per shoot. Always remember that after fruit set, cane elongation is suppressed.

If the canes are close to normal length at fruit set, you may be able to leave a larger crop, anticipating a near normal harvest.

Watch the shoot density. Keep it open. If the clusters are shaded from a dense canopy, fruit maturity will be inhibited this year and the shaded renewal zone of the canopy will produce inferior canes for next year’s crop.

There’s nothing so beneficial to fruit and wine quality as a regular brisk walk through the vineyard. Unplug your earbuds, and record your observations, if you have a short memory like mine. Look for strong and weak areas of the vineyard. Try to figure out why some parts are progressing more rapidly than others. Should some parts have been thinned more aggressively than others? Perhaps tag some areas that will require extra attention at véraison. Véraison is your last chance to optimize fruit quality. Shoot thinning and cluster thinning have the major effect on fruit quality when performed early in the season. If they are delayed the effect will be less. At véraison, when berries soften and start to colour, there is a brief period during which you can easily see which clusters are progressing more quickly than others. Green clusters may occur on weak shoots or from secondary buds. They may have been shaded. For whatever reason, if you want uniform maturation, the green clusters should be removed. Don’t just drop them on the ground. They will become a source of mildew spores to infect for next year’s crop. Perhaps use them to make verjus? I sometimes wonder if there is anything that could be called a “normal” year. We have early springs, late springs, cold summers, hot summers, rainy autumns, and hard winters. Every year seems to have its own problems.

The bottom line is that we can only make informed decisions and adapt to whatever conditions we encounter.


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British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2017

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