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Almost Christmas trees I would say, for Christmas tree have only one leader at the top, what we have are a modified central leader with a mini umbrella at the top. We were pruning block 1 for the entire week and those huge, old trees looks more like an umbrella tree than a Christmas tree. We kept our saw busy getting them back into a proper shape, for the umbrella shape will shade out the lower tiers and thus reduce new growth. We have finally accepted training down of water shoots to become scaffold branches at the lower tiers as a necessary for old trees. For these stonefruits are so vigorous the shoots thrown out from the trunk at strategic locations tend to just head for the sky!

We’ve got some new hires to work on the grapes, and they are good! Its always a blessing when you get good staffs. They will be helping us to put out the nets on the vineyard, put in new wire clips, and to cut out suckers on the whole orchard!

I am actually quite intoxicated at the moment, so I shall make this a short one. Have a good night!


Driving down Kaituna Valley Rd, you will come across the familiar sight of autumn, the poplar trees flanking Block 35 and Hill Blocks are dropping their leafs! Pat said the same thing happened about 5 years ago. A dry winter. A wet spring. No summer. Straight into autumn.

We had the GAP audit on Wednesday and I am glad we have got everything setup right. The mention of audit itself always strike fear in people, because no matter how well you think you are doing, you will always not like it when someone else comes along and tell you something is missing, or you are not doing it right.

I am finally starting on my NZHITO path to a Hort 4 Certificate. I was going through the module on Thursday and I realized I have somehow done most of the modules already, its not surprising thanks to my position in the orchard that I have got an almost complete exposure to what it takes to run the business. I have a feeling that I will be waltzing to my certificate but I should put in the work properly too!

Another week on the vineyard, and bouncing ideas with Grant, we will be coming up with a vineyard plan. Our goal is to produce a tidy productive canopy without too much unnecessary work as well as increasing the value of our wine grapes. That is, job done right at the start saves you from doing corrective jobs later.

One of the key job is with shoot thinning, done early in the season. In the past we only reduce double shoots into single shoots, but with next season shoot thinning job, we will also be removing shoots growing out of the bottom of the fruiting canes and doing cane selection at the center trunk at the same time. This will essentially reduce the volume of shoots growing up to form the canopy which helps in maintaining good airflow. The problem with shoots growing out of the bottom of the fruiting canes is that they often grow sideways instead of up, thus making a bloody mess in the canopy. Getting shoot thinning right will also reduce work on lateral thinning and leaf plucking, because there are less to deal with.

We have never use clips to hold the opposing wires together because its a hassle to remove them. But we will be doing it from now on, a clip on the middle wire in the middle of each bay when the middle wire is in its final position. This will help to clamp the canopy together and help the shoots to stay in place without flopping over.

Installing a new clip below the fruiting wire so that the middle wire could be pulled down after the season will also help with winter pruning as well as wire lifting for the next season.

That’s there, we still have a lot to learn.

Spent the whole week in Okana Vineyard doing some laterals removal. At this time of the year, this is one hell of a tough job, just like last year. At the same time, I have had some time to think over the whole process, and there are questions to be answered.

I want to find out when is the best timing to do bud rubbing so that you don’t have to go at it again and again.

I want to find out when is the best time to do wire lifting so that the canes grow straight up instead of sideways, which makes the canopy real bushy! It seems that getting the timing for wire lifting correct will also help the laterals to grow straight out into the row, then to be cut off by the trimmer.

Not to forget, the best time to do laterals removal and leaf plucking. Right after fruit set? Just before veraison?

I need a plan to make the vineyard operations run like clockwork, one of Swiss standard! Yet, a value for money to operate, like a Swatch 😉

Well, I’ll just have to go and have a long chat with our neighbors one day. They are after all very experienced viticulturalist, and their vineyard is just next door!

At home, the purple of the phacelia lacy are going away, being replaced by yellow and white. 2 sheeps got into the compound the other day, and they chew off everything on the tucker patch. I am not pissed off about it because I know I am not going to be able to harvest from the patch this season as there’s a big upgrading plan in mid-Autumn.

I am more pissed off with them uprooting the moonflowers I transplanted to the other side of the fence, as well as nibbling off the top of some of my corn plants. That’s so not cool! I am going to keep the gates shut from now on whenever I’m not around.

I bought a Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum) from Mitre10 yesterday for a clearance price of $3. Its one of those not doing so well plants, but I am nursing it in my greenhouse now, misting it with a very mild dilution of Seasol and PowerFeed daily. I just, got to remember to take it out some time when the plants outdoor are getting ready for their long nap. It’s deciduous.

Grant and I spent the week tending to the young trees. For the entire season we have trim and trim and trim, encouraging strong fruiting shoots to come out. Now, in the end, we are pruning them into tiers spacing them out setting them up for production in the coming season.

Lambs love apricot leafs. They love it so much they try to climb the young trees, reaching for the tastiest leafs at the top and in doing so, pulling the whole graft down breaking the union. The cambiums are half in tact, so the trees are still half alive. We are going to build a wire support along the rows to tie the trees to it, soon. With some Bacseal, we hope they will heal in time.

The 2 years old apricots in 35 have been trained into multi leader vase. We just don’t feel like putting a trellis over them. Among them are GoldBar and GoldStrike which bears amazing fruits! I have taken a cutting from each variety, hopefully both of them will root because they cross-pollinate.

Next week, only Hito, Cory and I will be around, the rest are having the week off. We’ll be spending our time tending to the vineyard. Some lateral thinning here, some leaf plucking there. This grape season is really slow, and late. Which makes it a wee bit annoying with the shoots that keep coming out at the base near the ground, we have just been going at them non stop and they kept popping out!

Side note, I’ve received the course modules for my Hort 4 apprenticeship program. I have not started on it yet, I have been burying my head into Agriculture Course by Rudolf Steiner. On the positive note, I know that I have done at least 80% of the modules already, if not all.

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