The 2012 season has begun…

Montepulciano growth.

Montepulciano growth. (Click to enlarge)

…albeit with a little delay.

I spent the morning or April 21st battling a stubborn weed whacker and a somewhat more feeble and compliant ground cover (results).

In between mowing, letting out more string and adding more fuel, I also managed to deliver (completely by accident, I assure you) onto the fragile ears of the neighbor’s kids curse words like they’ve never heard.

I also was able to ascertain budbreak status of all the vines, dig a few irrigation lines out from under dirt piled on them by (#$@*!^@!!!) gophers and sucker the whole vineyard.

Montepulciano flower size relative to a bottle of water.

Montepulciano flower size relative to a bottle of water.

Almost all the vines are flowering. I suspect the stragglers will catch up. The interesting thing is that the Montepulciano flowers are huge, as can be seen in the photo above.

Montepulciano vine which did not do well last year and was cut back this winter is catching up.

Montepulciano vine which did not do well last year and was cut back this winter is catching up.

The Aglianico vines are at various stages of shoot growth and I will soon have to shoot thin to start setting the goblet.

Aglianico vine with good goblet development.

Aglianico vine with good goblet development.

It’s more correct to say that I will be making corrections to re-train the vines into goblets, as I had not correctly set them in the first place.

Aglianico vine with smaller shoots.

Aglianico vine with smaller shoots.

As a whole, the vineyard is coming in and evening out.

A broader perspective on the vineyard - after mowing the cover crop.

A broader perspective on the vineyard - after mowing the cover crop.

Besides, the stalling weed whacker, the heat and the cursing (which was entirely justified, I assure you), I had one other incident worth mentioning:

The consequences of a runaway weed whacker....

The consequences of a runaway weed whacker....

Working around one of the Montepulciano vines, my foot slipped on the loose soils, the weed whacker snagged some denser growth and then lurched forward beating up the trunk of that Montepulciano vine just above the graft junction. My thinking is that it will likely not cause any serious long-term consequences. Still I hate to see my plants damaged.

Grasshoppers are evil.

Grasshoppers are evil.

Speaking of which… my back-up vines (which I keep in pots behind the garage) have been under attack. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed more grasshoppers in the back yard. In the flower bed, the bushes, the strawberries and now the vines. Jiminy Cricket they’re not, as the pictures above demonstrate.

Nothing a little foliar application of carbaryl won’t remedy…..

‘Till next time.

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About SUAMW

Father, husband, physician, amateur guitarist, wine lover, wine writer, wine grower and wine maker trying to do it all within eye shot of downtown Los Angeles. http://www.shutupandmakewine.com http://twitter.com/Dr_Arthur_P
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6 Responses to The 2012 season has begun…

  1. Martyn says:

    Nice update. What are you using to stake the vines.
    I can see the bamboo poles but what’s the plastic wrapped thing? – an aluminium stake?

    I’ve been using bamboo on it’s own but it’s not much good later in the season when the windage from the top growth makes itself felt in autumn gales. I was thinking 2″ wooden stakes or similar, but they would be a pain to drive into my stony soil.

  2. SUAMW says:

    I’m using 95-lb T-posts I got at a vineyard supply:

    http://shutupandmakewine.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/goings-on/

    Because of the incorrect training at the beginning, I had to extend with bamboo until the heads become more symmetric.

    Wood is OK if it’s redwood. Otherwise, it rots very quickly.

    The green elastic garden tape is good in the first year, but it does not degrade so it’s a pain to clean up:

    http://shutupandmakewine.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/cutting-out-the-green-tape/

    I’m going with natural fiber twine from now on.

  3. Frightened Turtle says:

    Looks good. How bad are the gophers and rabbits at your place? I have to actively hunt the gophers with cinch traps, plant all new vines in chickenwire cages (36 inch with 18 below ground and 18 above) and run 24 inch chickenwire around my vineyard perimeter (rabbit-proof fence). It is effective but labor intensive.

  4. SUAMW says:

    No Rabbits. Gophers are very active and I hate myself for not knowing/finding out about gopher baskets (which is what you are describing). In 3 years, I lost 2 vines to gophers – both in the first year.
    No trapping/relocating or killing allowed. Stupid animal rights nazis forced a no-depredation policy in the city…..
    I just dump used coffee grounds into active burrows. You have to be fast, though. Have a rock read to cover the hole. I once dumped in some grounds, turned around to find a rock and when I turned back around saw the grounds flying out of the burrow…

  5. Frightened Turtle says:

    Are you treating your vines to prevent Pierce’s Disease or keeping your fingers crossed and hoping your vines will be spared?

  6. SUAMW says:

    Foliar applications will begin in a bit. Last year was rough so I did not set up a mazzi injector for systemic applications. Need to do it this year.
    That said, if the uninformed have their way, I will be left with no protection:

    http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=100138&htitle=Winegrape+Pesticide+Facing+Greater+Scrutiny

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