Hello Wisconsin Fruit News subscribers and welcome back to Notes from the Field: A Grower’s Perspective! I had my fifth chat with Philippe on June 12…
The urgency for rain continues across Wisconsin agriculture. At Wollersheim, Philippe is utilizing several practices to reduce water stress on the vines. With no rain in sight, he started to irrigate young vines (2- to 4-years old). While he has not observed signs of stress in the vines, he does not want to wait until it’s too late. Young plantings are a top priority as drought stress can be the most harmful to these developing vines. In total, Philippe estimates that he is drip irrigating about 2 acres.
Another water preserving approach Philippe is implementing is the mowing (or scalping) of the grass. Keeping the grass short will minimize water loss. In years when there is sufficient rain, the grass can absorb the moisture, but in drought conditions the grass only competes with the vines for resources. The same goes for weeds, with increased weed pressure Philippe is applying herbicides to prevent competition for resources with the vines.
Since our last chat, Philippe has hired several new members on his field crew to support vineyard maintenance activities, such as suckering (or green pruning), retraining trunks and cordons, and removing undesired shoots. The removal of these undesired shoots via thinning (see ‘how to’ videos on thinning here) cannot be emphasized enough during these drought-like conditions. These undesired shoots will consume water and energy for essentially nothing (i.e., no outputs/yields), “so the sooner you can remove them”, Philippe advises, “the better!” In addition to removing unproductive shoots, they are now securing shoots to the trellis that they want to keep.
All the vines at Wollersheim have bloomed, and with many moving into post-bloom, Philippe is considering a protective fungicide spray next week. While no pests and diseases have been observed (likely a result of the dry conditions), pre-bloom through post-bloom fungicide applications are critical for season long disease control; read more about the importance of these spray programs here. Fruit load estimates continue to sit around the 20% mark for red varieties at Wollersheim. Philippe anticipates that clusters will be smaller this year and therefore harvest will move quickly, possibly around August 25 and 26 at his location.
That’s all for now! Check out the notes from my next chat with Philippe in the sixth issue of Wisconsin Fruit News on June 30. If you missed any of my previous chats with Philippe, you can find them here.
This article series is NOT intended to be prescriptive for other vineyards. It is simply an opportunity for our readership to hear from other growers about their experiences growing fruit crops in Wisconsin.
Growing the same crop does not always justify the same practices. Management decisions at your farm should be tailored to your operation and take into consideration location, regional climate, disease and pest history of your vineyard, and your varieties.
The mention of a product is NOT an endorsement. Always follow the instructions on product labels and consult weather stations (ex. NEWA) in your area for current weather forecast and disease and pest prediction models.This article was posted in Notes from the Field and tagged Leslie Holland, Notes from the Field, Philippe Coquard.