In our new Know your Vines blog series we will share practical tips on what metrics to monitor in your vineyard. This is the third instalment, stay tuned for more as the coming seasons unfold!
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
Counting dead or missing vines for yield prediction, replanting strategy and vine health
At the end of each growing season taking stock of your vines is an important part of vineyard monitoring. Checking how many dead or missing vines there are for each block enables you to calculate the actual number of vines you are managing.
Here are 3 areas that counting dead/missing vines can help you with:
- More accurate yield predictions
It’s important to know the actual number of vines in your vineyard when it’s time to calculate your potential yield. Just 5% dead or missing vines can skew results significantly. Yield predictions with the Sectormentor For Vines Yield Predictor tool take into account the number of missing vines.
- Creating a replanting strategy
Having a handle on how many dead and missing vines is the first step to deciding if and when to start replanting them.
Davenport Vineyards decided to do some replanting of vines this year. Late last month, before Owner Will Davenport could even ask, vineyard manager Phil Harris had gone out and counted dead/missing vines in each block. This meant that when Will logged in to Sectormentor he could see exactly how many of each vine variety and clone he needed to order and so he called up potential suppliers right away.
“Previously I would have had to ask Phil to collect the readings and wait until he could give me the bit of paper he noted it down on, as he often works at the other site. It would have been a lot more hassle but using the app made it very simple.” – Will Davenport, Davenport Vineyards
- Understanding vine health
Why are your vines dying? Are there multiple vines which have died in one block? Do you have a vine health issue? These are all questions to ask yourself when you’re counting missing or dead vines. Using Sectormentor For Vines you can identify patterns of disease more easily.
Often issues of this nature can be detected early by monitoring pruning weights; if the weight of pruned material drops from year to year there is likely to be a problem. This way you can address it before you lose the vine.
We spoke to Cathy Smith, vineyard manager at Hush Heath Estate who regularly harvests around 6 tns/acre – one of the highest yielding estates in the country. This is not due to an intensive input system and being cut-throat with the least productive vines, but rather due to diligent management of every single vine, as Cathy explains:
“The plants are like kids, each one is an individual and you have to care for them on an individual basis. When one of the vines isn’t looking so good I don’t understand why people rip it out straight away. I always observe the vine, try to understand what might be stressing it and then care for it for a year or two and see if it gets better, only then would I consider pulling it out. Plants need care and attention just like humans, only plants have one advantage – they don’t answer back!” – Cathy Smith, Hush Heath Estate Vineyard