Saturday, March 21, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards - Volume 30: Pruning 101 - The First Year

Well, here goes! Its time to prune, prune, prune, but first off, let's talk about the pruning shears. From the internet, books & videos, I learned that the best kind of pruning shears are the scissors type or by-pass shears. The other kind have a blade & a flat anvil, usually made out of a soft metal like brass, aluminium or even plastic. These type tend to crush the cane (branch) against the anvil as it cuts, leaving cracks & large wounds, which take longer to heal and create sites for disease to enter the plant. The scissor type leave a sharp clean cut, which heals over more quickly. Felco seems to be the brand favored by the pros. I found a nice pair of Fiskars for a reasonable price at our local hardware store, OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware).

As you can see, I have mi amigo, Leo, pruning away at the vines and this was after just a few minutes of training. We decided as a first pass to cut the grapevine growth down to two trunk canes so if one cane gets damaged during the early spring we will have a spare to work with instead of replacing the entire plant. When the buds start leafing out a little later in the spring, then we cut the spare away.

To show in more detail what we are doing, we put a white board behind a really good plant that had a tremendous amount of growth for the first year. Really, as we said last post, this is more like second year growth. We were very fortunate to plant so early at the March 1st, 2008 planting party and have so many sunny days of spring with our early heat spell last year.

Well, the first cane we are going to cut off is a large lateral branch, low on the bottom right side kind of hidden in the weeds. After that, we selected the main cane that we want to keep and a secondary cane, which actually buded and grew out of our main cane. We continued to prune off the smaller side branches until we had only the two well formed canes left. In other plants we selected two separate canes that had budded out of the original clone graft, which is even a safer bet if anything happens to one of the canes, like getting broken.

Well there you have it. It took about eight hours to prune all the grapevines on this first pass. We will probably spend a couple more hours in a month or so to prune off the spare canes.

On another note, I received a pink slip a week ago for "pruning" costs at my school district to meet next year's budget, which hopefully will be rescinded in a couple of months. Given that, I can't help but pass on a joke I heard from the Palo Alto superintendent of schools:

Attention All Personnel - In our ongoing effort to reduce costs, we will be turning "off" the light at the end of the tunnel !

As a parent, educator & voter, California really needs to find a better way to fund education in our state. To go from being first in the nation in education, both in funding and student performance, when I was a child, to vying for last place in both today, is utterly ridiculous. I really want to find an organization that is going to address this issue with some practical common sense from all sides. If you hear of any please let me know.

I think I'll need a glass of wine after that tirade! Hope you are having a pleasant first day of spring.

From down in the vineyard, John

No comments:

Post a Comment