By Ben Burridge
Viticultural Technician, Wither Hills
With such a warm spring in Marlborough thus far, canopies in all the focus vineyard blocks have been growing rapidly. Budburst and flowering are significantly earlier than last year (1-2 weeks), and the vineyard workers have been doing well to keep up with the job requirements of a compressed season.
The work which has been put into the organic Pinot Noir is showing signs of success, with the canopy looking healthy and the growth stages being similar to its conventional neighbour. Petiole tests in the organic Pinot Noir have shown a slight improvement in nitrogen to last season, which may be attributed to the digging in of the leguminous cover crop and the spreading of blood and bone undervine. This is an area however that we will continue to work on in the future.
Furthermore we have kept on top of undervine competition, with three passes using the undervine weeder since they were mounded. In comparison, the conventional blocks will have their second herbicide spray prior to the Christmas break.
The first spray across all the focus blocks was an application of JMS Stylet oil. This was then followed in the conventional blocks with applications of sulphur and diathane. Conversely the organic vineyards have had applications of sulphur, protector and seaweed.
Most recently a flowering spray of Serenade Max has been applied on the organic blocks, whilst the conventional has received an application of Pristine. Some rainfall during flowering has increased the risk of botrytis; however it has also supported the growth of the buckwheat and phacelia cover crop. Soon these plants will be flowering and the organic vineyards will be a hive of beneficial insect activity!