Walking through the vineyard this afternoon I realized that reporting on the vines’ fruit-bearing timeline (i.e. which flowers bloom first, etc.) would not be possible. This is only year two for this vineyard, and our crew (mostly Nick and occasionally students) is pulling off the suckers and flowers and anything not pertaining to the growth of the two main shoots that we are training up to the wire.
I suppose this affords me an opportunity to report that we are subscribers to the “spare parts” theory to growing vines in the Midwest. Rather than training a single trunk up to the wire, we’re training two. It is somewhat commonplace for a vine in the Midwest to suffer a bit of winter damage (or damage from a late freeze, chemical drift, drought, or a myriad of other elements), and we prefer to have two trunks in case one gets damaged or completely dies outright. Generally speaking, people believe two heads are better than one. Grape growers in the Midwest often extend that thought to vine trunks, two are better than one.
Here are some observations from the HCC Research Vineyard this week:
As with last week, several slow starting vines are finally coming around. Jupiter now has 9 vines with leaves, up from 6 two weeks ago. Chardonnay now has 4 vines with leaves and some others show bud swell (popcorn). Valvin Muscat now has 8 vines with leaves with others swelling.
Some varietals that are performing surprisingly poorly are Chambourcin, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc. The Chambourcin had only 5 vines with leaves last week; however the late frost knocked them back. Now only 1 has leaves with some others showing bud swell. Chambourcin is usually a slow starter in the spring, but spring is nearly over. Traminette and Vidal Blanc both are only showing some bud swell. Just 1 vine has leaves in the Vidal Blanc and zero in Traminette.
Other observations are that both Norton and Regent are doing well for numbers of vines with leaves (11 and 12, respectively), but they are least vigorous compared to other varieties in the vineyard with shoots just 3-6 inches; whereas, Frontenac and Leon Millot among others have shoots 3-4 feet in length.
The freeze event ten days ago certainly set back some vines, and I suspect it may delay fruit set and harvest.
Last but not least, all 12 Cabernet Franc vines are showing signs of significant bud swell.