A look at the 2012 grape season

This year we had a very “early” spring with bud break on grapevines occurring in March. We usually begin counting GDD base 50 beginning on April 1 but this year we added the GDD accumulated in March for our year end total of 4370 GDD for 2012.

Spring was hectic and we shoot thinned, cluster thinned, combed and removed leaves from the cooler side of the trellis on dense canopies as best we could. We had good weather during flowering and pollination and good fruit set. Chambourcin exibited symptoms of bunch stem necrosis (it was cluster thinned later than we would have liked).

Lime application to the vineyards last winter helped raise the pH to a better place for the grapes. There were still some mild micronutrient deficiencies (boron and iron) here and there, but improved from last year. We applied supplemental boron and iron as a foliar spray. N and K mildly deficient particularly in Chambourcin. This is the first year that we applied fertilizer after harvest – but with the long season this year, I thought this would work fine. This application was in addition to the split application of mixed fertilizer at bud break and nitrogen at fruit set.

Harvest dates were about 3 weeks earlier than normal. Hot, dry weather in summer caused some sunburning of grapes as well as uneven ripening in Catawba and Concord in particular. We had a good crop none-the-less, with minimal diseases. I noticed a pocket of grape berry moth damage in the Traminette just next to the nut and persimmon orchard and need to ask Maciej to set up a trap in that location next year.

The test vine weights for the different varieties showed an above average crop in most cases. Norton produced more this year than in previous years that I can remember. We left 70 – 80 buds per plant in the North vineyard and harvested about 25 pounds per vine (8 foot in row, 10 foot between row, high bilateral cordon).

The wood looks well hardened on most varieties with the exception of Catawba. We had to leave clusters hanging in the West Catawba since we did not have enough room in the winery to harvest them in a timely fashion. Leaves are still clinging to Traminette and Vidal Blanc. Traminette wood looks well hardened but Vidal Blanc and Vignoles not so much. I plan to go out and make some notes on this later today and may add to this post.

Now we wait until all the leaves fall off.

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