Shoot Thinning Time in the Vineyard

This past wave of heat has pushed our vines right up to the critical shoot thinning & suckering window: nearly everything is growing and exposed, but still young and tender so that the offending shoots are easily rubbed off with the fingers. The shoots are 4 to 8 inches long with 3 or 4 leaves growing at right angles to the stem.

Shoots in need of thinning.

The grapevine is an extremely old and successful botanical family in evolutionary terms. Its primary genetic survival strategy is to provide for many extra potential buds and shoots all over the vine, on both new and mature plant structures, ready spring forth and grow whenever a primary shoot fails, or when the available plant energy exceeds the minimum necessary to send forth and mature the primary shoots.
In sharp contrast, our objective as vineyard managers seeking the highest quality crop over a sustained period of years is to have a single row of growing shoots evenly spaced every 3 to 5 inches along the training wire. Most plants now have between 1 and 4 shoot locations where we will rub off the secondary, extra shoots.

This is the one to remove.

This will ensure that there is ample air ventilation throughout the canopy and abundant sunlight reaches all parts of the vine and fruit. Providing sunlight and good air flow are critical strategies in our campaign to keep the vines free of mildew and disease. Rubbing off the suckers on the trunk eliminates mildew-prone green tissue and it also conserves the plant’s energy for the fruit we are hoping to ripen.

Sucker these now!

Good sun exposure throughout the growing season is essential for optimum fruit quality; good exposure of the basal sections of the canes in mid-June as the shoots are about 2 feet long is critical for establishing the potential number and size of the fruit clusters to be produced the following year! Excessive shade can also induce the plant to invest much energy in growing a canopy that is too tall and too dense, it’s genetic survival strategy as a vine also involves growing to the top of the tree (trellis here) in order to get some fruit into the sunlight where it will mature and the seeds be carried off by the birds.
Peter, Founder & Vineyard Manager.

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