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.