In the vineyards, the big job this week is to get our new leaf removal system mounted on a tractor and ready for a tryout. Now, you might wonder why we’d want to remove leaves when we are so dependent on them for the photosynthesis that feeds the grape and grapevine development. There is research that shows that grapes that grow with at least some sunlight have better flavor and lower acids.

There are two theories about the best way to thin leaves in order to expose grapes to the sun. The first theory recommends that leaves in the fruiting zone on the east side of the rows be removed. This is what we will try starting this year. This will allow the grapes to be exposed to morning sun but still protected from the harsher afternoon sun.

We know of one Missouri grower that opts for theory two. That involves removing leaves from the fruiting zone on both sides of the vine. Proponents of this approach argue that the fruit gets more sun this way and that the grapes won’t be damaged by “sunburn” if the leaves are removed right after fruit set when the grapes are very small.

We will be spraying both fungicide and herbicide, weather permitting. We have to continue removing suckers and tying up vines at Meadowcreek Vineyard. And, if we don’t get some rain soon, we will have to start watering the young vines.