It is post harvest time for many northern grape growers. You made it through the peak season and are now surviving through the fall and preparing your vineyard for leaf drop. In this blog post, we are diving into the top four post harvest vineyard priorities for healthy, happy grape vines going into winter dormancy. We dig into late season fertilization, nutrient management, soil moisture management, and preparing for the next year.
If you want to set your grape vines up for success and have a productive vineyard next year, then this is a must read for you! Read the top four post harvest vineyard priorities below.
1. Late Season Fertilization & Nutrient Management
Stored carbohydrates in structures like trunks and roots drive early spring growth in vines, and insufficient carbohydrate storage going into dormancy can affect yield. There is a critical period between post-harvest and leaf drop where canopies need to recover, and nutrients must be replenished. Factors like disease, premature leaf drop, and lack of irrigation can deplete nutrient stores. Leaf petiole and soil sampling can help assess nutrient levels and identify deficiencies, and visual symptoms such as pale green canopy or chlorosis provide additional clues. Foliar sprays and ground application of fertilizers are methods to address nutrient deficiencies, but caution should be exercised in the timing and amount of nitrogen application. Proper nutrient management is essential to provide the necessary resources for vine growth and productivity in the following season.
2. Monitoring Soil Moisture
If the root system dries out post harvest, it can lead to the roots pulling away from the dry soil, resulting in a lack of nutrient uptake and uneven bud burst and ripening the following season. To prevent possible issues, the roots must be able to absorb nutrients, which means they must be hydrated. You can monitor soil moisture in a number of ways, including digging near irrigation emitters or using sensors to get accurate data on soil moisture levels. Other tasks that should be done during this time include testing water quality, flushing irrigation lines, and analyzing emitter distribution uniformity. Doing these things can make sure the vines remain healthy and that potential issues are avoided.
3. How to Assess Your Vine’s Health Between Harvest & Dormancy
Post harvest is the best time to identify any potential issues and address them before the next growing season. Walk through your vineyard and look for signs of uneven cane growth, high or low shoot vigor, sap flow problems, and nutrient deficiencies in the leaves. Monitor soil and trunk pathogens and mark areas of excessive vigor or weak growth. Soil and trunk pathogens should be investigated by submitting soil samples to the lab or examining the vine for symptoms. Red petioles and non-uniform green growing tissue in the leaves can indicate nutrient deficiencies. By accurately diagnosing issues, you can avoid unnecessary vine removal or possibly passing over or spreading underlying problems.
4. Proper Planning and Prepping for Next Season
Although preparing for next season can involve many things, there are a handful of tips we recommend. One way to plan for a successful season next year, is to record this year’s data. This includes yields, irrigation, harvest nets, fertilizer inputs, etc. Additionally, creating a list of priorities helps address potential diseases or issues, plan for vineyard growth, and ensures that any maintenance is tracked and scheduled. Grape growers should also track inventory and order any necessary products ahead of time. It also helps to have an end-of-season checklist to ensure nothing is forgotten.
If you want to learn more about post harvest vineyard priorities, check out https://www.vineyardundergroundpodcast.com/vu028