You Need To Have Flexibility In Your Vineyard

A full rain gauge is pictured at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard in Leesburg, VA. (Photo Credit: Tremain Hatch)
A full rain gauge is pictured at Zephaniah Farm Vineyard in Leesburg, VA. (Photo Credit: Tremain Hatch)

Vineyards represent a great deal of work. Planning, pruning, canopy management, spraying, — all require people, time, and energy. The fashion with which these tasks are completed can be very different between a one-person operation with half an acre versus a team of people taking care of a 100-acre vineyard. However, in both these situations it can be difficult to get the work completed within a given time frame.

Vineyard tasks are seasonal by nature. Late winter and spring are times for most of the canopy management jobs and autumn brings harvest season. During these busy periods in the spring and fall there are often more tasks than available time. It’s critical for a manager to prioritize duties to maximize the benefit to the operation with limited resources.

Challenges Abound
In Virginia vineyards, challenging weather can disrupt the flow of vineyard tasks. Most often these challenges come in the form of rainstorms that keep workers out of the vineyard while increasing disease pressure.

Two recent examples in Virginia showcase these challenges. Springtime wet spells — like we saw in May 2016 — where canopy management tasks and sprays must fit into narrow windows of clear weather. Maybe even more challenging, in both 2015 and 2016 Virginia grape growers faced multi-day storm systems during the peak of harvest.

Split ‘Cabernet’ grapes like the ones shown are compromised fruit that should have been harvested before a rain storm. (Photo credit: Tremain Hatch)
Split ‘Cabernet’ grapes like the ones shown are compromised fruit that should have been harvested before a rain storm. (Photo credit: Tremain Hatch)

Time Crunch
During springtime wet spells there are few dry hours in which to get out and spray the vines as well as make canopy management passes. Let’s lay out a situation. Mid-May shoots are 3 feet long; it’s rained for a week.

The two pressing demands are to spray protective fungicides on the vines and get a pass through the vineyard for shoot position. Both are necessary and important for controlling disease pressure.

There are number of ways to proceed, but knowing the top priority blocks will help in deciding how to proceed. Different criteria can be used to make determine precedence, such as crop value, disease susceptibility, or potential for crop loss.

Compromise works too. Instead of blocks receiving full attention for shoot positioning, perhaps just movable catch wires are moved or clips are used and a more complete pass for shoot positioning can be conducted when a bit more time is available.

The same can apply during harvest, when storms are forecast. Which crop is most important to get into the winery or what crop can’t handle the rain? These are decisions that we all make during the growing season and harvest. The scarcer the time, the more prioritization will be necessary.

These challenges are part of agriculture; they are exciting but stressful. A good manager embraces these challenges and ends up with the best possible outcome.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Grapes Stories
GenNext Growers
June 29, 2017
Cornell Graduate Student Earns Grape Disease Research
Doctoral candidate recognized by American Society of Enology and Viticulture for work studying sour rot pathogens. Read More
Grapes
June 29, 2017
Cornell University Wants You to Name That Grape
Contest to name cold-tolerant variety a seedless ‘Concord’-type berry runs through July 31. Read More
Grapes
June 26, 2017
Washington Grape Grower Battles New Threat
Apples, cherries, and pears are also threatened by Tobacco Ringspot Virus, a pathogen never before seen in Washington state. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption Produce Safety Rule
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
California Winegrowers Award Scholarships to Employees’ Kids
California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation awards $30,000 in student scholarships. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Berry Scarring
It’s a costly defect, but learning what causes berry scarring can help you prevent it. Read More
Grapes
June 3, 2017
Powdery Mildew Management Tips for Vineyards
Follow these suggestions to help reduce disease pressure in your vineyard. Read More
Grapes
June 2, 2017
Cutting Down on Biggest Grape Growing Expense
An automated grapevine pruner hopes may help slash labor costs. Read More
Grapes
June 1, 2017
Organization Now Washington Winegrowers
New name and logo better reflects the evolution of the state’s industry, as more growers have wineries. Read More
Grapes
May 19, 2017
Researchers Still Have a Lot to Learn about Spotted Lanternfly
While some feeding habits have been recognized, there’s still a learning curve with this enigmatic invasive pest. Read More
Grapes
April 25, 2017
Examining the Effectiveness of Biologicals Against Downy Mildew in Grapes
Growing conditions in the East are breeding grounds for pathogens, and coupled with highly susceptible Vitis vinifera cultivars proves to make sustainable grape growing practices a challenge. Read More
glass of red wine
Grapes
April 20, 2017
Would You Be Willing to Pay More for Organic Wine?
While consumers might be ready to fork over more for organic produce, study says the feeling isn't quite the same when it comes to the adult beverage. Read More
Grapes
April 19, 2017
Donnell Brown Named President of National Grape & Wine Initiative
New president brings experience in wine industry communications. Read More
Grapes
March 28, 2017
Understanding the Economics Of Red Blotch in Grapes
An economist and a plant pathologist team up to help growers understand the threshold for action when a vine is diagnosed with the virus. Read More
Grapes
March 6, 2017
Washington Announces Record Winegrape Harvest
‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ is the leading grape variety, accounting for more than a quarter of the total harvest. Read More
The Latest
Grapes
July 7, 2017
California Winegrowers Applaud $5 Millio…
Governor approves Pierce’s Disease Control Program money for the first time since 2011. Read More
Grapes
July 3, 2017
Climate Doesn’t Weigh Heavy On Ste. Mich…
While warming trend has been a part of past few seasons, the vineyard is incorporating new technologies to grape growing versus altering production techniques. Read More
Grapes
July 3, 2017
How to Handle Warming Pacific Northweste…
The warming temperatures in the Pacific Northwest are well-suited for red winegrape production, but other changes in viticulture practices must be made. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 29, 2017
Cornell Graduate Student Earns Grape Dis…
Doctoral candidate recognized by American Society of Enology and Viticulture for work studying sour rot pathogens. Read More
Grapes
June 29, 2017
Cornell University Wants You to Name Tha…
Contest to name cold-tolerant variety a seedless ‘Concord’-type berry runs through July 31. Read More
Grapes
June 26, 2017
Washington Grape Grower Battles New Thre…
Apples, cherries, and pears are also threatened by Tobacco Ringspot Virus, a pathogen never before seen in Washington state. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption P…
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
California Winegrowers Award Scholarship…
California Association of Winegrape Growers Foundation awards $30,000 in student scholarships. Read More
Grapes
June 5, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Berry Scarring
It’s a costly defect, but learning what causes berry scarring can help you prevent it. Read More
Grapes
June 3, 2017
Powdery Mildew Management Tips for Viney…
Follow these suggestions to help reduce disease pressure in your vineyard. Read More
Grapes
June 2, 2017
Cutting Down on Biggest Grape Growing Ex…
An automated grapevine pruner hopes may help slash labor costs. Read More
Grapes
June 1, 2017
Organization Now Washington Winegrowers
New name and logo better reflects the evolution of the state’s industry, as more growers have wineries. Read More
Grapes
May 19, 2017
Researchers Still Have a Lot to Learn ab…
While some feeding habits have been recognized, there’s still a learning curve with this enigmatic invasive pest. Read More
Grapes
April 25, 2017
Examining the Effectiveness of Biologica…
Growing conditions in the East are breeding grounds for pathogens, and coupled with highly susceptible Vitis vinifera cultivars proves to make sustainable grape growing practices a challenge. Read More
Grapes
April 20, 2017
Would You Be Willing to Pay More for Org…
While consumers might be ready to fork over more for organic produce, study says the feeling isn't quite the same when it comes to the adult beverage. Read More
Grapes
April 19, 2017
Donnell Brown Named President of Nationa…
New president brings experience in wine industry communications. Read More
Grapes
March 28, 2017
Understanding the Economics Of Red Blotc…
An economist and a plant pathologist team up to help growers understand the threshold for action when a vine is diagnosed with the virus. Read More
Grapes
March 6, 2017
Washington Announces Record Winegrape Ha…
‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ is the leading grape variety, accounting for more than a quarter of the total harvest. Read More