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June 2, 2005


Suckering - verb - the diabolical act of convincing someone to build a deer fence.

No but seriously folks - there actually is a viticultural task called suckering. Doug Fabbioli stopped by this afternoon to check on our progress and was very pleased with how things are coming along. He also thought the deer fence kicked ass. Because it does.

Anyway, he gave me a lesson on suckering, which is the removal of unwanted shoots (green, fruit-bearing parts of the vine) in order to increase the amount of energy devoted to the remaining shoots. This maximizes the growth potential of the two remaining shoots ensuring they will reach the cordon wire and begin horizontal growth.

So step one is to remove the grow tube and examine the vine. Here's what a viognier looked like once the tube was removed. You can see several shoots have emerged. Suckering a first-year vine is definitely done one at a time, on hands and knees. You have to delicately pull back leaves to inspect each shoot, then break off all but the strongest two shoots. Interestingly enough, even first year vines can try to produce fruit! Have a look at the same vine once it has had shoots removed you can see the tiny grapes. Then the grapes are removed and you have the suckered vine. Then the grow tube is carefully slid back over the vine where it will remain for another month or so. Now just 1,919 more to go - time to call in the labor crew!

Doug was happy to see a couple of the cabernet franc vines emerging from the tubes. At this point in the year it's a very positive sign of excellent vigor - here's the first one out.

And in case you ever thought that my anxiety over finishing the deer fence is exaggerated, have a look at a test vine that we used to determine the planting depth of the tree planter. This vine has not had a grow tube around it and you can see how the deer have munched it. Check it out. At least this vine doesn't need suckered.

So Doug assigned me a priority list of tasks to complete.

1) Complete deer fence (will be done next weekend!)
2) Call Quentin and have his guys sucker the remaining vines
3) Install trellis wire and secure tops of bamboo stakes
4) Apply another round of herbicide in the rows (and perimeter of fence)
5) Contact Jim McKenzie at Helena Chemicals and order:
---- Sulfur (fungicide for powdery mildew)
---- Dithane (fungicide for downy mildew)
---- Sevin (insecticide for Japanese beetles)
6) Install end post bracing construction

I'll have to start spraying fungicide every 10 days by the end of June, and probably every three days for the beetles.

Oh yeah, before Doug got there and after he left I worked on the deer fence. As if you didn't know...

Posted by Stephen at June 2, 2005 9:13 PM


Hey Smack Dog!

Looks like things are coming together!

Posted by: Lucille at June 16, 2005 8:48 AM