As May moves into June, vineyard management tasks are essentially all about maximising both quality and yield as the season progresses. All the early seasons good work, selecting the best canes when we were pruning and tying down, days spent painstakingly rubbing off the buds that grow on the stem, removing the weeds that relentlessly appear in the rows, all count for nothing if diseases are allowed to take hold. Powdery Mildew, which creates white/grey patches on the emerging leaves (see below), is just one pest that can have a significant negative effect on vine vigour, even causing crop loss and our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines are particularly susceptible. Since it is very difficult to cure once it is well established, we take great preventative care at this time of year, particularly with the high humidity that the UK has recently been experiencing. The most important timing for control is the period between flowering and fruit set and while preventative spraying is our current (and ongoing) method of defence, late in the year we will take care to encourage good air circulation around the vines, by diligent pruning, training and leaf stripping the developing canopy, to minimise shading, increase airflow and maximise future spray penetration. As vineyard temperatures have been above 20°C recently, we have been applying a Sulphur foliar feed in the past week, by utilising a large fan assisted sprayer, attached to the rear of the tractor as seen below.
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