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From the Vineyard

February 2016

Vineyard pruning is the practice of removing last year’s growth from the vines. We manipulate the vine to give us the fruit quality, quantity, and light environment we want for the growing season. Pruning is the most important vineyard operation all year, because it casts the die for the season’s upcoming crop. We prune to create balance between vine vigor and fruit load. Pruning takes place annually when our vines are “sleeping” (aka the dormant season) and before bud break to promote growth and prevent disease. This timing is important, because all the nutrients have moved to the root from the leaves.

Pruning methods vary based on trellising. We trellis our vines in two different ways: open lyre and bilateral cordon. Therefore, they’re pruned differently too: cane and spur pruning.

Guyot Style Cane Pruning

To get started, scope out all of the shoot growth from last year and choose the four best canes to be laid down as the new fruiting canes. We’re looking for healthy canes that will promote ideal fruit orientation with open clusters, even light (sun and shade) and airflow. Remember, all vines are unique.

Next, remove last year’s fruiting canes with all of the unchosen canes attached.

Cut the length of the new fruiting cane. Typically, this is 8 to 10 buds in length. In a perfect world, each bud will have one shoot with two clusters.

Carefully massage the chosen cane (you’ll hear a little crackle), wrap once around the fruiting wire (bottom wire), and tie down the end.

Move on to the next vine!


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Bilateral Spur Pruning

Look at the prior year’s shoot growth and choose the best oriented canes with the ideal wood diameter (a little bigger than a #2 pencil) and the healthiest looking buds on each spur.

The first bud on each cane is called the basal bud and it has the least amount of fruit. Count 2 clear buds (can fit your pruning shears underneath) above this and cut the cane. Ideally, the remaining clear buds are pointing upright and not crowding each other.

Repeat with every spur on the vine, then move on to the next vine!

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