Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thinning grapes, grudgingly

Two clusters were too close together. I thinned one of them; can't recall which.

I've heard another voice of advice urging me to thin grape clusters from vines. The reasons for doing so are set forth succinctly in a Ohio State University Extension bulletin:
  • Balance the amount of fruit with the growth of foliage.
  • Assure that each shoot will be capable of maturing the fruit retained.
  • Avoid allowing vines to overproduce and lose vigor.
I have encountered several rules of thumb for thinning. The one I have followed is:
  • Remove any clusters on shoots of 8 inches or less.
  • Allow one cluster on shoots up to 15 inches.
  • Allow two clusters on longer shoots.
However, I became easily confused as to what constitutes a shoot. I understand a trunk and a cane, and anything running off a cane must be a shoot. 

But what about sub-shoots running off of a shoot that's sturdy, almost woody in strength? I ran into a bunch of those and thinned to one cluster per sub-shoot. However, it's possible that I should have thinned the entire group of sub-shoots down to a couple of clusters total. Hard to say.

In any case, I thinned grudgingly and, it turns out, sparingly — but I did thin.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Japanese beetle update

We put up the "Shroud of St. Vincent" for the third year in a row. It was obvious that we would not be able to pick off and crush even the moderate number of Japanese beetles that were munching the leaves. 

As you can see (above), we did not have enough row cover to enclose all the vines. However, the vast majority of the area is covered, and the bugs seemed to have mostly lost interest in the leaves that remain exposed (the buffet is much smaller). The uncovered leaves have sustained minor damage (below).

I have ordered more row cover, but it's not expected to arrive until late next week.Too bad!

Related posts:

Japanese beetles, once again (earlier this month)

Urban vineyard update; The Shroud of St. Vincent (2010,with exciting photo slideshow)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spectrum Road: Lifetime and beyond

Here's a cover/legacy/repertory/(whatever) project that stands head and shoulders above the usual type of effort in this area. Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, Cindy Blackman Santana and John Medeski have teamed up to play the music of Tony Williams Lifetime.

Among the players in the current group, Spectrum Road, Bruce was a member of the original Lifetime, and Blackman was mentored by Williams. It's clear that all members are using this music as a starting point for something new, not as a nostalgia trip.

"Vuelta Abajo" (video above) showcases the fierce drumming of Blackman Santana and the intense shredding of Reid. It's interesting to hear, around the 2-minute mark, how the dynamics ratchet down a notch, but Reid's playing becomes more creative, integrating blowtorch runs with shreds of melody.

I'd like to hear more of Medeski's input and listen more closely to Bruce's approach to the music that he helped create 40 years ago. Spectrum Road has recently released an album by the same name — which must be added to the lengthening list of must-haves.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Japanese beetles, once again

Japanese beetle. Photo credit: University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension.
My first Japanese beetle sighting this year was June 12 — just a couple bugs. In less than 24 hours, I have seen about a dozen Japanese beetles in 4-5 visits to the grapevines. I have crushed nearly all of the bugs. However, I see somewhat more evidence of munching that I'd expect from just these few pests.

Last year at this blog, I announced my first JB sighting on June, in similar fashion — just a few bugs. The 2011 infestation was not as bad as 2010, and here's hoping that this year will confirm the trend. Still, it only takes a handful of hungry pests to chew through a few grape plants.

By the way, I'm using a fruit tree spray that has captan, malathion and carbaryl — highly recommended for JB's. However, it does not seem to be working.

Question: How much leaf damage can the vines sustain without harming the fruit? I'd prefer to monitor and crush rather than wrap the vines in garden netting at this stage of the season. Thoughts?