The extremely cold weather we’ve experienced over the past three weeks is starting to worry us that we may have incurred damage to trunks and cordons of our vines. The problem is that we aren’t going to know for sure until just before harvest. The reason is that everything can look good, the vines might bud out and set fruit, and then sometime before harvest they suddenly wilt and die all because of winter damage.
If the vines collapse, we will lose the crop for this year. But, the vines are not dead. The root system is very hardy and next season, they will produce sprouts that we can train up as new trunks. These will bear fruit in the second year. So, we will lose production for three years as a result of severe winter damage.
While we have no way to know conclusively if we have damage, there some things we can and will do in the next week or so to try to learn about the condition of the vines. One thing we will do is to cut off a cane from one of our vines, bring it indoors for a couple of days, and then see if buds form and swell. We can also section the buds to see if there is damage inside. The indication of damage will be dark brown or black tissue. Ideally, we will repeat this process on each of our varieties. Practically speaking, we are likely to do it only on 3–4 varieties.
We expect to start pruning on about March 1.