VSP: Vertical Shoot Positioning

The sun broke through late one afternoon while I was out in the vineyard; refreshing.
The sun broke through late one afternoon while I was out in the vineyard; refreshing.
A row of pruned Merlot vines in Stan Clarke Vineyard.
A row of pruned Merlot vines in Stan Clarke Vineyard.

A vineyard is a peaceful place to be, especially in late winter when sounds carry a long way and there is hardly anything to break the stillness – oh yeah, the horns of the power company trucks during the late afternoon on weekdays.  Not sure what they are ‘saying’ but that is the noise pollution disturbing my revery as I observe canes, pick my preferred spurs and rid the sleeping grapes of their tangled masses.  It is a pleasing sight to look back down the row at the tidy spurs poking up from the cordons.  Presently the flash of the red flicker wings are the only sign of wildlife as it is cold and damp with intermittent snow, freezing rain, wind and an occasional parting of the clouds.  The early robins are sheltering in warmer places with more food available.

Prunings left in the row for mulching.
Prunings left in the row for mulching.

Both Stan Clark Vineyard, the WWCC teaching vineyard, and a private vineyard north of town in the Palouse Hills are VSP.  There are a few exceptions in the Stan Clark Sauvignon Blanc, but we are beginning in the red grapes, so we haven’t dealt with them yet.  I have a couple of rows in the Merlot Block, which is the source of the wine I made with my group during crush.  Differences in vigor are noticeable along the rows; my least vigorous row has a few plants missing since the 2010 freeze.  I believe I will have the opportunity to put in new plants this spring if all goes well; exciting thought.

Training a new cane to be a cordon.
Training a new cane to be a cordon.
A cordon with three active spurs and a long inactive section.
A cordon with three active spurs and a long inactive section.

Last weekend I spent most of my Saturday in the private vineyard doing some of my practicum work.  It was an adjustment as the elevation doesn’t do the grape vines any favors.  I had to retrain some canes to cordons where there were too few spurs to provide sufficient grapes.  It adds a dimension to the pruning that has to be puzzled through to be sure the roots are not taxed unnecessarily but that there are new shoots to train as trunks and cordons next spring while still having a useable harvest this year.  Removal of dead limbs keeps the vineyard neat.

2 thoughts on “VSP: Vertical Shoot Positioning

    1. Growing the canes vertically up into the trellis wires is the most common training here in Walla Walla. Lots of light throughout the day encourages good growth of the canes and keeps the fruiting zone low in the canopy so there is shading around the berries.

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