The vineyard is warming up and bud break is approaching. During the past week, the vines have begun to bleed, meaning that water is pushing up through the pruning wounds and that is really the beginning of bud break. Hormones are moved from the roots up through the vines, basically waking up the plant for the season. Soon the bud scales will begin to crack, then the bud will swell (often called â€œwooly bud stageâ€) and finally the leaves will begin to unfurl. How quickly this happens depends upon the weather. I am guessing the first leaves will appear near the end of April, which would indicate a normal bud break.
The 2017/2018 fall and winter seasons were dry, especially when compared to the 2017 growing season. I have therefore started to apply water to the soil; dry soil during bud break can limit the number of buds that push and the uniformity of early shoot growth. I will also apply a small dose of minerals to the soil that will include the macro and micronutrients. Humates will be added to help start the soil microbes, jumping the soil ecology into motion.
Plans are underway for an irrigation trialÂ in blocks 1 through 9. We will be adding greater quantities of water prior to bud break in order to mimic the high rainfall we experienced during the early part of the 2017 growing season. I have chosen these blocks because the soil is more uniform throughout the rows. My hope is that we will not need to irrigate these blocks again until June. If all works well, we will continue this pattern in blocks 1 through 9 throughout the 2018 growing season, meaning fewer irrigation sets of greater hours. If all works well, and this will likely take a couple years to determine, we may take the program to other blocks throughout the vineyard.