It is hot this morning but not as hot as expected — yet. Today could be 107-degrees plus. Because we are coming out of a two week period of cool weather and the extreme hot weather appeared so suddenly, we have decided to delay pulling leaves from the vine in order to give the fruit a little more shade protection. When the temperatures cool near the end of the week, we will resume the leafing process.
Prior to this heat wave, however, we spent two weeks positioning the shoots, removing leaves and lateral shoots, and trunk suckering. We shoot position by moving shoots vertically up through the trellis wires on the east side (morning side) of the vines to allow for sunlight penetration and airflow. On the west side of the vines, we move about 60 percent of the shoots up through the trellis wires. The remaining shoots will be left to sprawl and provide a little more shade on the warmer, afternoon side of the plant.
We have also been working on removing lateral shoot growth. On the morning side of the vines, we remove lateral shoot growth up to but not including the upper cluster, along with the lowest two leaves. Again, our goal is to leave one layer of leaves over the fruit to keep the fruit from burning, while at the same time allowing adequate sunlight into the canopy for proper fruit coloring. On the west side of the vines, we remove lateral shoot growth up to but not including the upper cluster. Once more, our goal here on the west side of the plant, which gets more intense sunlight and heat exposure for longer hours than the east side, is to provide adequate sunlight exposure with a little extra protection. The interior leaves in the fruit zone that are not exposed directly to the sun will also be removed in order to increase air flow and improve sunlight penetration through the canopy.
In addition, we are completing our second pass through the vineyard to remove unwanted shoot growth from the trunk of the vine. Here are a few photos taken at the vineyard recently showing our progress.