Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vine Life - Bud Burst

Last week our Semillon vine reached the Bud Burst stage. This is when the vine leaves dormancy - the sap starts to flow through the vine, the hard scales that have protected the tiny buds all winter peel back and let the vine really start to take off. It's a sure sign Spring has arrived!

And just a week later, the first leaves have started to unfold.

At the moment we are spraying compost tea across our entire estate, and this week the Home vineyard and the Semillon block got a turn.
Spraying compost tea helps create a culture of diverse biology on the vines and in the soil. This helps break down the canes (the pruned wood from last years vine growth) that we mulched into the soil under the vines through Winter. This biology also consumes any powdery mildew spores which are present on the vines from last year, and essentially does a big Spring clean of the vines and soil. This means we can delay spraying sulphur across the estate, because this biology is doing some of the cleaning up that sulphur would otherwise do. This Semillon block is completely sulphur free, so it's particularly important there is a strong, healthy environment to begin the growing season with.
The diverse biology that compost tea encourages also helps keep all the biology in check. Any disease cells present, like botrytis or powdery mildew, have to compete with all the beneficial bacteria and fungi. This maintains a balance in the biology and makes it very difficult for any particular species to get out of control.

Our compost tea also contains some biodynamic preparation 507 in it this time of year, to help protect the vulnerable new buds from frost damage. 507 is made with Valerian, a plant which has properties which excite bacteria - essentially making them move around and generate a small amount of warmth around the buds.

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