Sunday, October 17, 2010

An October Update

Spring is really here despite a two day return to winter with rain and windy conditions. There was also some snow on the mountains. All the fruit trees are in blossom and budburst is over with all four grape varieties now well into shoot growth. The fact that the Pinot Noir was shooting in August only enforces the global warming argument. I think from memory that budburst is now three weeks ahead of what it was when I first planted vines around 15 years ago.
So that all means there is plenty of work to do around the place.
Spraying has begun mainly against downy mildew. A neighbour of mine who runs a commercial winery has not sprayed for powdery mildew for years and has had no problems. This year I will try the same. It is a bit of a risk as there is no 'cure' for this disease but anything to reduce the number of sprays and chemical impact on the environment is welcome. Not that I use too much nasty stuff. Copper oxychloride used against downy mildew is approved for organic vineyards as is wettable sulphur against powdery mildew. Phosphorus acid as a downy curative is also ok. Chlorothalonil used against botrytis isn't too good but there are really no effective sprays of lower toxicity.
Calves have started to arrive. So far everything has gone well. Grass is growing well too after all the rain we had over winter so the new mums will be well nourished eating for two.
A friend and I worked on the fallen trees produced by the big storm for two days solid. We eventually got the fences repaired and and started clearing the accessible trunks and branches. From a distance it's as though we did no work at all. It's a huge job. They will never be completely cleared. At least we have a few year's firewood already.
And the black snake that seemed to have taken residence in that area has apparently moved on due to all our activity.
It was one of the biggest I have seen around here for quite a while so will be keeping an eye out despite the recent no show.
Other than that all the tourists have gone home after the October school holidays and we have a few month's peace until the real invasion starts in mid December for the long summer break well into January.

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