Tracy and I are out in Hyde Vineyard (atÂ the ‘new block’)Â and itâ€™s an auspicious day because they are doing some shoot thinning.Â The two things you want to accomplish with shoot thinning are opening up the canopy to make the sprays for mildew on the fruit more effective.
You can see on this side of the canopy that has been thinned (laterals and suckers removed) you can see all the fruit.Â
Any sulfur spray that gets in there will be effective.Â The other reason is to let sunlight in.Â
You can see itâ€™s still dappled sunlight because you donâ€™t want the fruit hanging out there directly in the sun because then weâ€™ll just get sunburn.Â And I just thought of a third reasonâ€¦you can see it right here.Â
When we pull small shoots like this off, we also pull a little fruit which is probably a little more than we need.Â You can see this was a very short shoot but it still had two clusters on it.Â It probably wouldnâ€™t do a good job ripening these clusters.Â
Three things:Â Sunlight, spray effectiveness, and taking off a little extra fruit that isnâ€™t needed without the intention of taking it off, but in the process we remove some stuff that isnâ€™t necessary.
When I look at these vines I see a nice fruit set, not particularly heavy.Â Most of the shoots have two clusters, they arenâ€™t particularly large, and as you can see with this cluster they arenâ€™t super full.Â So in other words each cluster is not going to be really heavy.
There are a couple of things that determine how much crop you have.Â One is the number of shoots.Â Two is the size and fullness of the clusters, and number of clusters per shoot.Â So most of these have two, which is pretty normal, some only have one, but they are not abnormally big or full.Â So we shouldnâ€™t have a light crop, but I donâ€™t think it will be particularly generous like 2005 or 2006.
Next we can talk about the growth of these vines.Â Here it is the end of June and we have about a meters worth of growth on these shoots.Â Some are shorter and some are longer, but not too long.Â We havenâ€™t had to do any tipping yet, which is a good thing.Â Tipping is when they grow so long early in the season that we have to cut off the tips to keep from shading and to keep the canopy from becoming too heavy.Â Â When you do tip, you do some good things, but you can also force lateral growth.Â Lateral growth is like right here, in the axle of the primary shoot, there is another shoot coming out.Â
You donâ€™t want to have too many of these because they actually do more shading than you want.Â Â When you need to tip early because the growth is very vigorous you force that to happen.Â So we are in pretty good shape.Â
You can see the growing tips are starting to shorten up.Â They probably wonâ€™t stop growing for another month or so, but you can see from the internode length (distance between each leaf) itâ€™s fairly short, which means they arenâ€™t growing super fast, which is what we want to see.Â Itâ€™s about this time of year, over the next month or so that weâ€™d like to see the vines switch over from green growth (filling the canopy from the bottom to the top to have enough leaves to mature the clusters).Â We want it to stop growing so that the vine switches from growing green parts to ripening fruit.
So right now we have grown enough leaves to mature these two clusters on this shoot, so we donâ€™t need too much more growth.
As you may be aware, all of California got about a 50% of average rain year.Â Weâ€™ve had two good years of rain for 2005 and 2006, more generous than normal.Â While we are in a drought condition for what these vines have in the soil right now, we do have the availability of water for irrigation.Â So far so good!