We all have been feeling the summer heat this year...and our vineyard is no exception. Actually, there is one exception...our grapes don't mind it! They are well established now, and they are flourishing in the hotter temperatures.
It has been a little more challenging working in the vineyard in this heat, however. Since it is a business that my mom and I choose to do, we can also choose when we decide to work out there...thank goodness! I usually look forward to my time spent working with the vines, but there are definitely times when I would prefer to stay in the air-conditioning and blog about our efforts! :)
Our varieties are doing well this year. We anticipate a smaller crop for our Marquette, which suffered frost damage early in the spring. We hope to have more than last year, but from first glimpse, they don't appear to have much more of a crop load. Our Gris, Brianna, Foch, and Frontenac are all doing as well or better than last year. And, our La Crescent variety is doing much better than last year. It also suffered frost damage in the spring of 2011, and we had very little crop for our first year. So, we are excited to see what a healthier crop load looks like with that grape.
We have stayed on top of the pruning, hedging and skirting of our vines (just different terms in regards to how you trim and manage the vine.) We are experimenting with different tools in our vineyard to see if other techniques save time and energy compared to our trusty old pruners. In March, we attended our region's grape conference and a gentleman from Michigan spoke on the benefits of using different tools, just as another trade would do.
So, my mom decided to purchase a battery-powered hedger (it was actually a gift!) that is very light weight, and I have to say, it is our new secret weapon! :) It saves so much time, and it is also a change from the pruners, which tend to wear on your hands a bit.
So, we continue to add to our collection of tools and equipment to better our efficiency and make canopy management a little easier.
We also had our guys help us with a few trellis maintenance projects. We needed to add a few support posts towards the bottom of our rows, so we enlisted the guys to help dig the post holes! And, as we head into the later part of our growing season, I'm sure everyone will get their share of time in the vineyard as we prepare for harvest.
We will be working on pest management as our grapes ripen, since birds, raccoons, and many other animals tend to like ripe berries! So, we will post some pics of our bird netting going up, along with our electric fence for raccoons. We'll take a little break as I have our 3rd addition to our family, but I will be ready to a little more comfortable working in the vineyard not being 9 months pregnant! :)
Til next time!