Good Fruit Grower

December 2015

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Page 37 of 95

38 DECEMBER 2015 Good Fruit Grower W ine grape growers in Michigan have learned some lessons from the last two hard winters, which showed them in dramatic fashion which vinifera varieties can survive and where. But growers are not sure exactly how to react. It's been 20 years since the last destructive winter. Since then, local wineries have built wine styles and repu- tations based on varieties they don't want to abandon. And no one knows what next winter will be like. We might have 20 more mild winters. During Viticulture Day at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC) in Benton Harbor, growers watched demonstra- tions showing how they can save the graft union and a replacement cane by burying them under soil or straw for the winter. They may not save mature trunks and cordons, but they can make a quick recovery from a devastating winter and have a crop that fall, growing on the renewal cane. "A lot of growers in northern Michigan will do it this year," said Duke Elsner, the viticulture specialist in the Grand Traverse Bay region, the most northerly of Michigan's two wine growing regions. Protect VINES from the COLD Grapes Burying a spare cane provides insurance against very hard winters. by Richard Lehnert Above, Mike de Schaaf grows an "insurance" cane that he lays down in the row and covers with soil to protect it and the graft union during winter. At right, Erik Hurtado from Fenn Valley Winery guides a machine to cover a vine with soil and protect it from winter injury.

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