I pruned a few rows of Cabernet Sauvignon. There is some evidence of "bleeding" so the sap is running but there is no sign of budswell as yet. This allows me to concentrate on the new vineyard block where the Semillon is showing some sign of budswell and the Tempranillo in the seed bed is already in bud burst.
The first job was to eliminate the poor Semillon performers from the previous season and replace them with good "spares" grown in the same block. This poor performance can be blamed almost exlusively on the soil environment where there is inadequate moisture retention. This is due to the soil structure (sandy), the lack of organic matter and the proximity of some large trees which take all available soil water.
Current drought conditions have exacerbated this problem.
The row positions of the bad performers were noted and the poor soil environment will either be ameliorated with the addition of organic compost (1:1) and/or the application of additional water during the growing season.
This transfer of vines took two days to complete but we should now have four good rows of Semillon ready for growing season. The first crop is expected in 2006, albeit a small one.
Despite the hard work it was nice to be in the warm sun under a bright blue sky, sans shirt, for a few hours of the day. Spring is well and truly here. A number of species of wattle trees (acacia sp.) are in full bloom and looking good.
BUT WE NEED RAIN URGENTLY! IT IS SO DRY!
My attention has now turned to planting four rows of Tempranillo. This has to be done urgently before bud burst progresses much further. One down, three to go! A row a day seems to be the limit.
Of concern is evidence of rabbit activity as well as that of wallabies in the vineyard area. We have been free of rabbits for quite some time now due to the calici virus but obviously resistance is building and new warrens are being established. Vineguards will protect the new vine growth from the rabbits but it will soon be time to seek out their habitats and apply the usual poison to keep numbers down. The wallabies are more of a problem. The vineyard will need to be protected by a sophisticated electric fence system. But as they will only be a nuisance once vine growth emerges from the guards, I have time to think about how the fence needs to be configured.
In the meantime, the cattle have started to improve in condition due to the additional hay ration. All have obviously begun to put on some weight and produce additional milk for their calves. Milton continues to be hand fed once a day and is looking fine.