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Crop Update 2013 by Tom Mitchell, Pa’tridge Run Farms and Fall Bright, Finger Lakes Wine Region, overlooking Keuka Lake east, near Wayne, 10110 Hyatt Hill, Dundee, NY 14837    607-292-3995

August 3, 2013 

   

Canes produced in vineyards that were well balanced with a below average crop in 2012 were well matured with high crop producing potential. The best canes were sizable, dark, and dense with small piths. Many canes had well developed buds well beyond 20 nodes.  

   

The 2012 – 2013 winter was relatively mild. The crop potential was very high.  

   

April and early May were cool and at times damp – vines were off to a slow but good start (perhaps too good of a start).  The bud push was as good as 2009.   When I commented that,  “I have not seen a bud push as good as we had this spring (tender vinifera included).”  

   

A decision was made early on to shoot thin, especially in the vinifera and more valuable hybrids as the potential for very dense canopies with large crop potential was real. Vines were intensively suckered – retaining renewals only as needed.  

   

As Mother Nature would have it - the bloom period was rather unsettled with intermittent rains – as most of you know, not the best conditions for set. Precipitation in some areas has been ongoing – sporadic in other areas at times and in places. – some how our specific area missed rains that went north and south of us for several weeks – fortunately we never got in a deficit situation.. Almost all growers in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of NY have spent a lot of time on sprayers this year and for the most part growers have done a good job suppressing grape diseases and insects.  

   

In spite of erratic cool wet weather in the spring, set in most of our varieties was exceptional.  A few varieties showed a very prolonged, uneven bloom that resulted in very uneven berry size between and within clusters.  

   

It has been a cooler and wetter than normal July.  For the faint of heart - all is not as bad as one might assume.  As of 30-July-13 we were 13 days ahead of long-term average.  I think this figure is suspect in actuality as we had several days at 90 and above and a bunch of days below 80.  In both of these situations photosynthesis is less than ideal, meaning we may be closer to a normal growing season than GDD would indicate.  We had at least a week of temperature lingering in the 70’s.   Where vineyards were shoot thinned, suckered, shoot positioned, cluster thinned where needed and kept clean, the foliage is of good color, very healthy, functional and the vines are just waiting to do it’s thing, when the right conditions present themselves.  

   

I would much rather have vines in this condition with good weather coming than have vines suffering from severe drought stress with low to non-functioning leaves.  An above normal crop is present (all factors considered).  Well-managed vineyards have the healthy canopies to ripen the crop with the right weather and any excessive crop could be reduced from now through veraison to accelerate ripening.  Three or four weeks with mid 80 degree temperatures between now and harvest would be just what the doctor ordered.  

  

We still have a long ways to go, but our vines and crop are looking great.  May your wines fall bright!

 

 

 

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