Posted By : Chris Corley
This week we’ve started pruning. Pruning is much more than just hacking back last years growth, it’s a critical step in setting the vine up for the growing season. Pruning can affect the training of the vine, suggest a general cropload for the season, and perhaps even influence the timing of budbreak. It is the most immediately visually altering step that we take in the vineyard, and the dramatic shift in the panorama from the 4-6 foot canes to 2-3 inch spurs really reminds you that we’re shifting gears in the field. Once pruned and perhaps disced or mowed, the vineyard is about as bare as you will see it all year. But there is a kind of simple beauty in that naked vineyard. It allows you to see the gentle undulations and soil variations that may be difficult to perceive through a growing canopy.
A lot of the time, we speak of pruning as being the beginning of the growing season for the vines. In reality, this growing season began as soon as we harvested last years grapes (2008). When the vines are relieved of their crop and sometimes still have some green leaves, the chlorophyll in those leaves are still actively doing photosynthesis. Not much (because its late fall) but this photosynthesis is important. Because there is no more fruit to ripen, this post-harvest energy is stored, and this is what can help the vine to get started back up again in the spring at budbreak. Many growers will even be sure to give their vines a post-harvest “feed”, while the vines are still somewhat active in feeding and transpiration.
Chlorophyll and compost aside, pruning is an exciting time. To watch a 2-inch spur develop throughout the year into a lengthy elegant shoot with wispy tendrils and and beautiful clusters is a joy I look forward to each year. For now it is a pleasure to watch the vineyard be slowly transformed into its most basic and pure state …