I know I have said this in past articles this Spring, but this rain really needs to stop. While some rain is good for new vines, it is definitely not healthy for mature vines. Unfortunately this much rain is not good for any age vine. As most farmers will tell you, they have learned to deal with Mother Nature’s wrath and we will bounce back from this weather, we just don’t know when. But after looking through our past weather tracking documents we are starting to see some similarities between Spring 2011 and Spring 2008.The Spring and Summer of 2007 was amazing! Warm temperatures, little rain and lots of sunshine, very similar to Summer of 2010. Unfortunately Spring of 2008 was filled with cooler temperatures, increase in rain fall and the amount of rain we received in some of the spring storms really caused some challenges for the 2008 production. Amazing how much that sounds like Spring of 2011 already!Grapes grow the best when they are slightly stressed searching for water and cooler temperatures. The amount of sunlight allows the grapes to produce higher levels of sugar in the grape clusters. So, given the limited amount of sunlight and the excessive rain we have experienced, we are at a greater risk for disease in the grapevines.  I wrote about dealing with Black Rot a couple of weeks ago and how to prevent it, so if you are seeing some problems with your vines, let me know and I will be happy to share that article with you again. We have been combating this problem with a spray program that has been more frequent than last year due to current conditions. While I do not mind the cooler temperatures, it has been perfect weather for the bugs to come out and weeds to grow around the base of the vines.  We’ve already sprayed for ants who like to eat the baby grapes currently growing on the vines. The next pest we expect to see are the Japanese beetles who love to eat grape leaves.  We have also started spraying for diseases that love high humidity, such as powdery mildew, in preparation for a hotter summer.  Also another threat we are starting to watch is the invasion of the Asian lady beetles (similar to the ladybug), but they will not make an appearance till later in the year. While we followed this program in 2008, we also saw a very hot end to the summer of that year and ended up with an amazing harvest. So as we continue to spray for diseases, bugs and weeds, we are monitoring the vineyard to maintain great quality grapes and look forward to find out what the 2011 harvest will bring us.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.