We just received our rooted cuttings of Steuben and will plant these vines over the next two weeks. Steuben is a Vitis labrusca variety that is difficult to grow in most climates and really marginal in Iowa. But the grapes make a very nice sweet rosé wine that is very popular for its spicy finish, so we have a reason to address the problems and overcome them.
On another note, a customer asked me a week or so ago where they can purchase grape seeds so they can grow their own grapes. While I don’t know where anyone would purchase grape seeds, that is one way to grow grapes. Most serious grape growers plant rooted cuttings so 1) they know for sure which variety of grapes they are planting, and 2) rooted cuttings give much surer results in commercial vineyard settings where one can’t dote over every vine.
Weather permitting, the vineyard crew will spray fungicide this next week in all vineyards. We must spray fungicides every 7 to 10 days in order to prevent powdery mildew, black rot, bunch rot, and other fungi from getting a foothold in our vineyards. The weather must cooperate because we can’t spray if the vineyard is too wet and mushy because our equipment is big and heavy and we don’t want to damage our vineyard floors. We also don’t want to spray if rain is expected within 24 hours because much of what we spray will wash off in the rain. And, we can’t spray if it is windy! So, we face lots of “don’t do’s” when it comes to spraying.
Finally, some of the vineyard crew will be removing suckers. Suckers are vigorous canes that grow off the lower parts of the main trunks of our vines. They are not fruitful but they do consume lots of the vine’s energy so we remove them unless we have a need for another trunk next year. Removing suckers is back breaking work if it is done by hand because the suckers are low on the vine and they can’t be removed without kneeling down and pulling them off with a gloved hand. Our new V-Mech system has a de-suckering attachment which we will be trying for the first time this year. Like most first-year tools, we have to become experienced in making them work so we expect to have to follow the mechanized de-suckering with hand sucker removal until we learn all of the in’s and out’s of mechanized de-suckering.