During the vineyard dormant period, it is important to keep a keen eye out for disease, pests, and maintenance needs, this requires a combination of responsiveness and strategic planning.
Post-harvest disease management is key to the ongoing health of the vineyard. This period is heavily influenced by seasonal weather that can increase the potential of fungi to occur. The infamous forms are Powdery and Downy mildew which interrupt the plant’s ability to photosynthesise and threaten the grape bunches during the growing season and the carbohydrate storage in preparation for the dormant phase. The fungus life cycles are complex and prevention is far better than cure, which may necessitate the use of chemicals or removing valuable vines. During the post-harvest time, any signs of infection are removed from the plant and matter is removed from the vineyard to reduce the chance of spores finding their way into the soil and attacking in the next season.
Pests like insects mostly have a lifecycle that is seasonal and during autumn there can be a false sense of security. Unseasonal weather can encourage a rise in insects that may require quick attention such as the use of registered insecticides or encouragement of natural predators that are harmless to the vines.
As you can imagine with such large expanses of land that are inherent in vineyard farming, maintenance is an ongoing project. The post-harvest and dormant period offers an opportunity to action larger scale upkeep, two major activities are to check and repair the trellising and irrigation systems.
Trellises support a great weight during the growing season, which can cause wires to lose tension and posts to become unstable or even break. During the cold months, the pressure on the trellis is significantly reduced which is the perfect time to stabilise or replace posts and retention or replace wires.
Irrigation can be complex systems of reservoirs, pumps, filters, pipes, sprayers, and drippers depending on the vineyard and estates facilities. Each one of these components is vital to the health of the vineyard and requires care to ensure functioning and longevity. The dormant period is a less risky time to have scheduled interruptions compared to the growing season.
Passing dormant vineyards with the bare vines can be easy to think that the hard work is over, but while the vines are resting the farm staff are performing crucial work that will ensure that the next vintage continues to be a success.