Time to get serious with some new equipment: A Weed Badger!
How high is the water, mama?
Need more water? Build a dam!
April 2008 A year ago, the first vines went into the ground. Now it's time for them to wake up!
Buds begin to apear.
A really healthy vine enjoying Springtime.
A month later, and most vines have really taken off.
Good and bad is on display in this view.
A closer view of an aggressive vine.
Grapes? Not exactly.
It's painful to admit, but these buds have got to go!
The reality of 2008.
Not every bunch hit the ground.
A nice view down some of the better rows.
Only two weeks later in mid-July.
A small bunch, but looking good.
A nice overview of a healthy vine.
Another consequence of the rainfall this year can be seen in the bunch in the background.
Early August 2008 Setbacks
An infestation of June Beetles cost us every single grape that was perfectly healthy in July. At the same time, a heat wave settled over Arkansas that produced temperatures over 100° for four consecutive days. Some of the vines were severely weakend by the two-pronged attack. Following that, more torrential rains made work in the vineyard impossible for several days in the middle of the month despite the onset of cooler temperatures.
Fight back, of course. The real problem is finding a way to limit or eliminate beetles without pesticides. We had already introduced beneficial insect predators this year to deal successfully with aphids and other pests. Beetles are a tougher problem, but have been successfully controlled in "green" vineyards with two methods: assassination and disguise.
The assassins arrive.
Nematodes are microsopic unsegmented worms. There are good ones and bad ones. Bad ones destroy roots; good ones destroy grubs. We have introduced some that love grubs that become beetles and "promise" to leave our roots alone. That way, we hope to control the pests before they become pests. These microscopic predators in the soil should significantly lower the number of beetles appearing next year.
We avoid pesticides whenever possible at Circle T (we believe the land should be healed as opposed to having its chemistry altered), but every now and then a product comes along that is OK by the organic certification folks. Surround WP is a product containing kaolin clay (the same stuff that makes Kaopectate work). Spraying it on maturing vines acts as a camouflage and an irritant to various predators. Using it in combination with our assassination team should help the vines produce some healthy fruit in the years to come.
Late August - "There is Another."
The quote is from a great man....OK, it was actually Yoda. While the grainy photograph below may not look like a scene from a "Star Wars" movie, it truly represents "A New Hope".
Secondary bunches appear.
A challenging year comes to a close
Late fall colors
Winter comes early
A closer view of our winter preparations
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