Once the harvest time is over, vines are allowed to rest and regroup until it’s time to grow grapes again. Good for the vines. They definitely deserve the rest. Managers of vineyards, on the other hand, have a lot to do post-harvest. There are several duties they need to complete to ensure the success of the crops for next year, from soil analysis to aerial assessment.
What do they need to do then?
Working the Vineyards Post-Harvest
For a long time, many winemakers believed that stressed vines produce grapes of higher quality. Because the land is different now, making the veins suffer would have the opposite outcome.
The next best step is to assess the soil’s needs for nutrients. Take a good look at the leaves and the vines. Their health and vigor, or the lack thereof, will tell you their actual conditions.
If the leaves brown and drop prematurely, salts may be causing mineral deposits. Leaf drop can also be caused by diseases, such as cotton root rot or downy mildew.
If the symptoms are only affecting older leaves near the fruit zone, the vines may be stressed due to a deficiency in mobile nutrients such as potassium or magnesium.
Drought and insufficient watering will also cause a lot of leaf necrosis. In areas where vines are in decline or have low vigor, the vines should be tested for problematic nematodes.
For each of these problems, there are solutions.
To counter mineral deposits caused by salts, for example, growers can apply heavy irrigation sets to push salts passed the root zone.
Plant Cover Crops
This is the best way to restore soil fertility and tilth in vineyards. Crops, such as grains, clovers, legumes, and perennial grasses attach to nitrogen-fixating bacteria in the soil and help increase organic matter, minimize weed growth, and maintain efficient water filtration.
By choosing the right cover crops to plant, vineyard managers can enhance the soil quality for next season.
Due to regulations designed to improve air quality, agricultural residue burning is no longer an option to boost soil.
This is why growers are encouraged to generate compost from post-harvest debris. Onsite composting is not only a sustainable and organic solution but also reduces erosion, eliminates debris, and improves terroir.
But because this process can be tricky, growers can also apply commercial fertilizer.
Whichever is the case, it is highly recommended that you use a service to test compost for a variety of parameters and to help mechanize the composting process.
Determine Vine Health
Observing the state of the vine and its canopy will provide insights on how effective the growing practices were. Post-harvest is also the best time to check for decline-related diseases that affect vines.
So, take a walk along the rows and test the vine and canopy.
Combine this with aerial drones that collect visual and spectral images, you can collect data that will help you adjust growing practices, if needed, for the next season.
Pre-Season Soil Analysis
This is performed to determine if the soil meets the array of nutrition parameters needed for a good yield. These include organic matter, nitrogen, salinity, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese, and pH.
The analysis also includes a study of the soil, types, yield goal potential, and growing issues that vineyards are likely to encounter.
Speckle Rock Vineyards is located in beautiful Escondido, California and we’re happy to serve the following cities and counties and their surrounding areas in Southern California: Vista, Valley Center, San Marcos, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Ramona, Mesa Grande, Poway, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, and Temecula