Good Fruit Grower

October 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 14 of 47 Good Fruit Grower OCTOBER 2016 15 chose: Cleaning up materials, cutting back the plants and grafting on Cabernet Sauvignon, at a cost of $2,800 per acre. "The plants being 20-plus years old, we thought if we could get another 10 years out of them, maybe then we could come in and replant," Gomez said at a Washington State University Viticulture and Enology Field day in August at the vineyard outside of Benton City, Washington. "We always pick this Merlot block right around Labor Day, no matter whether it's a cold or hot year. That's the reason we chose it — it's a consistent block. The thought was to take the best of the Cab and the Merlot to start again." More and more, wine grape growers are turning to grafting new varieties onto existing vines in hopes of sav- ing money and producing fruit more quickly. "You're definitely into production quicker versus starting over entirely," said Kevin Judkins, nursery man- ager of Inland Desert Nursery. "A lot of that goes back to recouping revenue sooner. You have a trellis system that's already there and setup in place. As long as the spac- ing is desirable and the rootstock is clean, it's a good option." The drawback — and the risk, especially in the early years — is an early fall cold snap that takes out young grafts. "If it's still green at the graft union and we get a cold front, it can cause a lot of damage," he said. "It's like starting all over again." Most of the grafting in Washington has been of red varieties to white varieties, particularly in some young Riesling blocks, since that variety has fallen slightly in popularity. However, Judkins warned growers to be wary of leafroll virus, which is symptomless in white varieties. "You graft reds on top and it lights up. You have to be cautious of that and maybe consider testing the root- stock before grafting," he said. Judkis often has growers come to the nursery looking to buy certified budwood to graft onto their existing vine- yards. However, Hedges Family Estates chose to take cut- tings from its best Cab block. Inland Nursery picked the cuttings at dormancy, usually a six-bud cutting reduced to two-bud spurs grafted onto each vine in the spring. Gomez hired a crew from California to handle the grafting. "If we'd had half an acre, maybe 1 acre, we might have done this ourselves," he said. "I wasn't going to screw up 6 acres." Considerations and challenges Hedges grafted the Cabernet onto two separate Merlot blocks, one 4 acres and another 2 acres higher on the hill. Gomez gave a tour of the 4-acre site, shared his experience and offered a few tips. The first challenge was getting rid of the old cordon and anything that had grown on the wire. But they got lucky, Gomez said; the 4-acre site only required about 100 splices. That vineyard had been planted in a two-trunk sys- tem. Hedges decided to leave the best trunk and get rid of the other, moving to a single-trunk system in the new vineyard. With wind an issue at the site — 15, 20 and 30 mph wind gusts are not uncommon — they decided to train the tender young shoots. "We just started grabbing what was there and training it on the wire," he said. Next spring, the winery plans to hire a special crew to come through at pruning to examine shoots and ensure "That's the reason we chose it — it's a consistent block. The thought was to take the best of the Cab and the Merlot to start again." —John Gomez LICENSED NURSERIES Cameron Nursery, LLC P.O. Box 300 Eltopia, WA 99330 509-266-4669 Helios Nursery 18936 Hwy 28 West Quincy, WA 98848 509-787-7777 Brandt's Fruit Trees, LLC 1420 N. 16TH Ave Yakima, WA 98902 509-248-4315 One year propagation contracts available upon request. Contact Adams County Nursery for details. PREMIER™ HONEYCRISP PREMIER™ HONEYCRISP DAS-10 CLTV. PP#24,833 DAS-10 CLTV. PP#24,833 SCHEDULE BUDDING NOW FOR SPRING 2018 AND SPRING 2019 An early maturing Honeycrisp strain originating from a complete tree sport in Adams County, Pennsylvania. Observed over six fruiting seasons, Premier™ Honeycrisp matures 21 days before the original Honeycrisp. This cultivar maintains the same fruit qualities that have made Honeycrisp a top choice in consumer preference. Original vs. Premier™ MASTER LICENSE HOLDER Adams County Nursery, Inc. P.O. Box 108, Aspers, PA 17304 717-677-8105

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Good Fruit Grower - October 2016