Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Start of the Season

We've had bud break in almost all the vineyards now. That's when the nodes on the dormant vines swell and finally open, showing little leafs for the first time.

Each vine looks a little different when it opens up. Grenache is vibrant green. Syrah has pink-red tips. Merlot looks a little yellow. Chardonnay is bold green. They also all start at different times. Right now we are still waiting on Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Mourvedre to open everywhere.
It's a busy time. We need to start spraying all the vineyards to protect against Powdery Mildew. I'm spraying an organic oil, JMS Stylet Oil to start. Stylet oil is a wood mineral oil that prevents Powdery Mildew and a host of other things. For those vineyards on a organic program, we'll spray Sulfur next in about two weeks. The non organic vineyards will get Eagle 20W in 4 weeks, or after the next rain.
I like to use Eagle 20W on new vineyards we've just taken over. Zap the mildew out of the vineyard, and then convert to an organic routine. It's too hard in the mountains to get rid of mildew once it's established in a vineyard with just organics, especially given that many of the vineyards we take over have been neglected.
We'll also add fertilizer over the next few weeks. I'm doing a spring mixture of 12-0-0 Corn Gluten, and 7-3-5 Fish Bone, both are organic treatments. The Corn Gluten also acts as an anti seed germination agent, preventing weeds where it's applied. I like to apply the treatment under the rows right around the roots, rather than spreading it over the entire vineyard with the tractor. This lets me control the overall amount better, and helps keep the weeds down. More work to walk around to each plant, but it's better in the long run.

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