May and June are our busiest times in the vineyard as the vines grow rapidly, they go from buds to small shoots to full size in a matter of weeks and to support all that growth there are a number of jobs to be done. The mature vines need the wires raising to support the growth and then they need trimming. We trim to prevent each each row overshadowing the rows next to it, and it also helps the vine to push more energy into the grapes instead of into the foliar growth – you can see a before and after photo below.
The new vines we planted in April, fortunately weren’t damaged by the late frosts as they hadn’t yet sprouted. Now they are growing well and have pushed out 3 or 4 shoots, this needs to be pruned back to 1 strong stem. You can see in the photos below the same new vine before I removed 3 excess shoots and with then with just 1 strong shoot remaining. This shoot then needs to be tied to the support post – then repeat 1,156 times!!
Another job at this time of year is protecting the vines against mildew. As we are organic we can only use a copper/sulphur mixture. This coats the leaf and will last for 10 days or 20 mm of rain. Non-organic / systemic treatments will last for 14 days no matter the amount of rainfall. We don’t spray pesticides but instead use pheromone diffusers which are attached every 5th vine throughout the vineyard, these encourage the pests (specifically the European Grape Vine Moth) to go somewhere else to lay its eggs.
The other non-stop job is the weeding, at this time of year when the ground is dry and hard we have one mechanical tool to use – the brush, this brushes any tall weeds away from underneath the vine.
When it rains again and the ground softens we will re-plough to keep the ground decompacted, aerated and grass free.